Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fires That Lead Nowhere

What is the purpose of ideas? I don't know why I have them or the compulsion to act upon them. They are a mystery to me. I feel like the ideas have control of my life, and keep me trapped in obedience to them. I get the feeling that they are trying to distract me from something, something they don't want me to see, something significant. Even as I write now, they are still pulling the strings as I attempt to write fast enough to outdo them.

As an adult I have never valued ideas as much as I do now. They cannot be bought, but they can and will be copied. The more you do to claim and declare ownership of them, the more they will own you. They will ruin your life and convince you of their innocence. Other people like to know what ideas you have so they can compare notes on propagation, and then forget you during harvest time.

I don't know what's worse: small ideas, or big ideas. The bigger ones can rot your mind, but the small ones will keep you up all night, taking it in turns to poke your cerebrum.

I'd like to just have a robust and athletic body and no pens or paper or ideas with which to make a mess of things. I'd like every creation to be a physical action or a spoken work of art that defies repetition. I have no use for a paper legacy, as I have two arms, and these legs you see. True freedom comes from having no attachments, even to your appendages.

The first place to begin is in the physical realm. The objects that hold emotional ties and seem to coalesce into sentimental collections of trash that in turn collect dust. When you throw things away it's like you are disowning a piece of yourself, discarding the things that make you who you are. If you purge enough you may find yourself at a point where you question what you have become, who you thought you were, and why you still exist without a hoard of possessions to hide behind. I must be my ideas, after all, they were the source that led me to all my belongings in the first place.

Ideas seem to flow more freely than stamp collections or flat screen TVs. But what happens if you deny life to an idea? How long will it persist? Why do I feel the need to honour these ideas, when they seem to emerge infinitely faster than they can be brought to fruition? Have I just been conditioned to obey them, or have I just misinterpreted the ways in which I am supposed to manifest them? I'm convinced that it's possible to live in such a way as to avoid provoking such elaborate and attention-whoring ideas as the ones I'm familiar with.

When there is no problem to contend with, what is the creative process as an artist? If there is no mystery, no puzzle to solve, then what use is the creative mind? There's a possibility that the creative mind with all its ability, simply does what it does best and creates a problem or a phantom objective to focus upon, and thus satisfy its need to continue functioning. Perhaps the ego is the ultimate source of these creations.

I have noticed that people like to group together in solidarity and recognition of a common goal, even if the goal itself is separation from others. Let's all come together to fight the government, forgetting momentarily that the fictional entity known as the government is made up of real flesh and blood people like you and me. We ignore what we know to be true in order to allow the ego to create a false enemy. It seems like we feel a greater sense of satisfaction in placing blame and making enemies of real people, instead of exposing our own egos and holding them responsible for the discord and distance that we feel between one another. But as long as you identify with and believe you are your ego, blaming it amounts to blaming yourself, which appears to be one of society's big taboos that helps perpetuate this cycle.

Of course one could submit that your reasons for abandoning your ideas is due to laziness or fear of some sort, but anyone still caught up in the world of ideas doesn't want to be reminded that this is the case, or be forced to examine their own actions and motivations.

Whether you conclude that life is meaningless or not you are still left with 24 hours in a day and a life to live, so why not fill it with things that you want to do or achieve? But let's look at the difference between acting upon ideas in the moment, and storing ideas my means of recording and preservation. If it feels right I dance and get lost in the movements as time ceases to exist and I just act. Although this feeling or state might be intermittent it is the basis of the exercise. I may become aware of my self or my surroundings, and anyone else observing, but the intent is always to lose myself. In these moments the ideas can come and be executed in such a seamless way that sometimes you aren't aware of what you just did or how you did it. New things are created this way, but in order to create any kind of repertoire we must isolate and repeat the specifics, which is where practice comes in.

By practicing something your intention is to hold onto it, often in such a way that does not require conscious effort to recall and execute. If you watch someone dance, and they perform a large vocabulary of moves you will no doubt imagine that they must be creative. Although in order to perform any routine you have actually limited your creative potential in order to repeat old ideas over and over. Unless you have some innate ability to learn new technique with minimal practice, you must sacrifice one thing for another at any given time. This is why I believe that true art is raw and unpolished to some extent, and that traditional art is perpetuated by man's identification with ego, and an end product that can be stored, sold and coveted. As long as we continue to produce art in this way our work will just serve to reinforce our belief in separation.

I find myself at a point where I have grown up believing that a creative person is who I am, and therefore where I derive my strength and sense of direction from, but now I see how limiting this idea is, and how it seems to have coloured the last couple of decades. It's not that creativity in itself is a bad thing, but that like everything, a label needs to be seen for what it is.

I once imagined what it would be like to take my camera on holiday without any film loaded, and to just frame things in the viewfinder and press the button. This is because photography especially, seems inextricably tied to the end results, however involving and demanding the process may be. What happens if you remove the end product or attachment to it?

I feel very much that I have grown up as an artist i.e that I have been one since a young age, and also in the other sense that more recently I have matured. I really question why it is that I want to capture things on film, or why I desire to write something and set it in stone.

At present I feel that my drive to create in these definite and physical ways is born out of discontent, anxiety, fear, the desire to be acknowledged and the need to express an overwhelming mass of emotions inside my physical body. I am unhappy with my life, the direction it appears to be going in, and the role I have perhaps chosen to play within it all. I fear that I have lost something somewhere in the past, that I will never experience beauty, peace, clarity and insight like I did before. I worry that my memory is not enough, and that a photograph will fade so much slower over time. I feel like without a concrete past I am no one, I have gone nowhere and done nothing.

But strangely, I want to feel empty and formless. I feel like I am abandoning everyone by refusing to store their souls and cherish their portraits. I feel deeply obligated to keep things if they were given to me. Memories have become replacements for relationships that no longer exist.

Although I like the way film looks when processed, and I take comfort in the spinning of vinyl on a record player, and I enjoy the process of marking a sheet of paper with a pen or pencil, I think I'm slowly coming round to the idea that these things may not survive, except as novelties of the past.

I like the idea that almost endless amounts of information can be stored within the smallest physical space, and that something which was once an object, is now intangible. Perhaps this might mean that in the future less resources are used and wasted on things with very short lifespans.

It may turn out to be both a gift and a curse in any case though, as when the amount of information stored on computers and other devices rises, so pressumably, does the ease with which that information can be accessed, manipulated and destroyed. A power surge won't wipe out all your books, but it could erase your hard drive.

But I like the idea of leaving the physical realm behind to some extent, reading electronic books that you can easily delete or pass around to your friends without any real waste created in the process. I also like the idea of being free from material possessions, and allowing things to flow uninhibited into and out of our lives.

I was recently given a terabyte hard drive, which not so long ago, was an unimaginable amount of storage space to have, and what really put it into perspective was while going through some of my things I found 3 floppy disks, each with a maximum capacity of 1.44 megabytes. My new hard drive has close to one million times more storage capacity than these 3.5 inch disks, and it looks like things are set to continue expanding in this way for some time yet.

But maybe the energy required to produce and work with everything in digital form will just balance out any energy saved in doing away with physical media.

I guess in a sense things have come full circle almost, because there was a time when language was never written, when life was captured only through the eyes, and music could only be heard, but not recorded. Then we turned all these experiences into material objects that anyone could own, and eventually we have made these things non physical again.

I want to exist with the minimum of attachments, in every sense of the word. I'd like to be able to fit everything I need into a small backpack and just move freely. I'd like to exist from what is in my head, and to express what I can through both a piano and my body as instruments needing nothing more, and leaving no trace.

The beauty of a piano is that it's so big you must leave it wherever you find one.

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