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Re: some thoughts on Ted's queeries about art and self esteem and, oh yeah, looping
from a Philip Glass interview:
"In this society, in relationship to artists, is one of the most brutal
societies that you can imagine....We have a fairly narrow spectrum of
acceptance, let's say, of 'safe' groups of people in this country. By
becoming an artist, you definitely fall out of that class.
I don't know an artist--and I've talked to many people, a visual
theatre artist or a music or a performance artist--whose parents when
they were young, asked them to become an artist. I don't know anyone
who didn't on their own say, 'I am going to become a painter,' 'I am
going to be a sculptor.' And so that later on when they say, 'Well,
I'm not doing well; I'm having a hard time,' people say: 'Who asked you
to do it?' Or this is the reply: 'If you want to spend your time
painting pictures, that's fine, but don't expect *us* to help you.'
This is the American life; this is the way we do it here.
That's why these question come up. But we come back to why is it to
begin with, in the face of this, that one will do it anyway? And in
fact to the point that, in my opinion--I'm afraid to appear
chauvinistic but--American artists are among the strongest in the
world. For reasons that are not clear--maybe the heterogeneous nature
of the society, the extreme independence of the artist through
survival. the lack of real tradition in the arts in this country--the
many factors maybe make it so that we develop a very strong artistic
personality in this country. To begin as an artist means to take on a
life of struggle, so that at 41 you may finally be making a living as
an artist. My European artist friends would say, 'My gosh, it took you
so long,' but in this country you'd say, 'You mean you did it so
quickly?' It's because it can easily never happen.
...Music is one of the few places, perhaps one of the only places,
where we find the meeting of our intellectual life and our emotional
life. The possibility of forming a perfect match can take place there.
We can use our brains in one way and at the same time respond. I
don't know of any other thing that does that, where the raw stuff of
art becomes emotions in certain ways, which are captured through this
strange and elaborate process of artistic technique. It's a very
curious phenomenon. I think when one is struck by that, it can be at
an early age, or sometimes later in life, but it can become the focus
of all the energy you have. In this way, being an artist is more like
a vocation; it's more like a calling in that you can't be asked to do
it, and you also can't be dissuaded from doing it. It sounds
abstract, but it's also a daily process. If you work every day at it,
it becomes very immediate, and there is a constant engagement with
this. I think that's the primary motivation.
Now, there are many others. I know for some people there are very much
simpler things, things like money and power and fame and all those
things too, the usual gamut of human gratification. Certainly there
are few artists who don't have some elements of all those things. But
I would say that the primary one for me is that this is one area where
this most intangible thing can be made almost as solid as a rock."
On Nov 18, 2004, at 10:16 PM,
> "In other words, I was a misfit. I have often wondered over the years
> just how much creative/industrious activity in the West was often
> just the result of certain individuals drive/hunger to "compensate" for
> a perceived personal "lack" in some other area -- misfits desperately
> trying to "fit in" and find/found/forge a place for themselves in a
> cruelly mocking and ever-threatening world.. "