Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Machine Overlords

It's after dinner and my body is currently doing it's own version of Battlestar Galactic, and I'm pretty sure the humans are going to lose this time. The pain is epic, but this is the pain that I have learned to live with because, short of just having my inconsiderate lady bits removed, there is very little I can do about this. Once, every thirty days, I will drink more wine then usual, curse the physical discomfort and carry on. So, you know, a day in the life of most women.


As I exited my favorite comfort bar, it occurred to me that I had no chocolate. Chocolate is a most sacrosanct reward for the suffering of all women and the thought of having to go through this without chocolate was sacrilege. 

Chocolate must be acquired. 

Fortunately, I knew of a pharmacy nearby where I could stock up on the sweet surcease to ease my body and this, then, established the trajectory of the evening. 

In the far too well lit store, I stood out, too well defined in fluorescentes, in front of a chocolate display. 

50 percent off chocolate: the display read. 

"Yes, please."

I proceeded to grab a solid handful of chocolate.

Ask for the additional 1.00 dollar off coupon at the counter. 

"I will!" 

Having thanked the small sheets of paper willing me towards cheaper chocolate I eschewed the self pay and proceeded to a counter. 

"The chocolate told me to ask you for a dollar off coupon."

The lovely young girl behind the counter paused for a minute before her eyes, wide, suddenly pointed to a big red machine. 

"Oh, no, not me. You ask the machine."

"I want the chocolate. Just tell me who to ask." Because I am in pain and because I don't want to deal with life I'm ready to give in, but she is sweet and kind and wants to help me.

"Just come over here. What's your number?"

Of course, as soon as she asks a rumbling earthquake of pain hits my body and so through gritted teeth I rattle of digits and hope she catches them all. The red machines stands there, like a sad cousin to Robot, rather then decrying danger, instead spitting out coupons for cheaper chocolate. 

We walk back to the counter together and she processes my rewards, bringing the total cost down from 40.00 dollars to 17.00. Clearly, a worthwhile venture. She rings me up and I dutifully insert my card. 

"Do you want to keep the other coupons?"

The red machine had spit out a number of coupons, but I just assumed the coupons were for the chocolate so I looked at the young lady rather perplexed, having just come down from the most recent round of thrashing pain. 

"I don't know, what were they for?"

She looks at the paper slips in her hands. She looks down. She looks at me. She looks at the paper. She looks at me. 

"Uh...two dollars off tampons, a dollar off a bottle of wine, two dollars off pain killers, and a dollar of pads."

We make eye contact over the counter. I hold it a moment too long. How can you not?

"So, clearly our machine overlords understand what is happening in my body right now."

We laugh for a moment, but she stands there awkward with the slips of paper. 

I smile at her and break the tension. 

"Which brand?"

"Any, it's general."

"Well, it's clear I can use them."

I take the stack of slips and slide it in my bag next to the large, less expensive stack of chocolate and laugh merrily to myself as I walk out the door on my way home. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

Creative Grief

"How does grief aid in creativity?"

"It doesn't." - Nick Cave, Murmrr Theater, 5/5/2018

An interesting thing to listen to an artist talking about the creative process, especially those artists that you love, respect, want to emulate. The question was fascinating but the answer...

There is something in the answer here that was so powerful and resonating, so exactly right. The answer really was in some way perfect for an artist who wonders about the role of grief in art. Isn't life supposed to be pain, and pain supposed to be art, and grief and tragedy and loss and loving and losing and yearning and longing and searching and seeking and loving and losing again, again, again.

Isn't that supposed to be-

Art?

The dark and the trauma and all the things that shape the soft curves and rough edges of your life. The pain you feel on the page, or in the fabric, or in the brush, a manifestation. When you touch the thing you bring to life and you feel it there for a moment, whole and real and wonderful. The loss, the grief, the tragedy manifest, isn't that supposed to be art? Wasn't there supposed to be something more meaningful than 'it just felt right'?

I agree with the statement that grief does nothing for art.

It's not the grief.

It's the living after the grief.

It's the picking yourself up day after day.

It's the knowing that the dark, dark, dark is there.

It's the knowing the thing that shapes you.

It's in having looked at the evil in the world and watched it mold you.

It's in the knowing that there is unstoppable hardship, but that you do not stop.

It's in the going on, the going through, the going by and getting past and getting on and getting along.

The art is after the grief.

Waiting for grief to make art is the most pointless thing in the world. The art comes from other places.

"Sometimes, you feel so anxious and depressed. You feel like a failure. Like a fraud. And that builds up, you know. It just keeps getting bigger until suddenly you breakthrough it and it's like an epiphany and then you suddenly have this burst and you make something and it's brilliant, you know? You can just feel it. In the way the words line up together. The way they play off each other..." 

Encapsulating the thing that holds you back, the block that sits on top and suddenly you lose it and it all explodes on the page, through the fingers, through the paint, through the words, through the body, and in that moment the creativity takes you and you are all the creativity and you are everything and nothing and light and the void and it is amazing. Euphoria that burns to the core.

Revelations.

The never ending spike of thinking and feeling and knowing and wanting and dreaming and going on.

Going through.

Creating.

Wanting.

Being more.

Doing more.

It's not the grief, you see. It's never been the grief.

It's everything else, and the art, that is the release, the realization, the moment when you know that in whatever it that you just did, there is something that no one else could have done before you and no one else can do in the same way after.

That's creative.

So far beyond grief.

Maybe somewhere in the madness of the process itself lies genius, which is a comforting thought. The rest is, really, a madness.

The madness is the hardest part of art, and possibly the best part of art, and possibly the reason to keep doing the art at all. More so than love, or the muse, or the passion, or the pain, or the grief.

The madness.

I am a mad artist.