01 November 2014

Thoughts about artistic unpopularity

I wrote the following malarkey as a comment on another network, but I didn't share it there; so, when I say 'this network', I do not mean THIS network.

Somewhere along the line, I forgot that this environment itself prohibits any actual listening, any actual audience. You might be a lover of literature, but it's as if presently you plan to play a video game: that is, you plan to maneuver the joystick in many directions so that your character, the little green frog, should move all over the screen rapidly while neat blips and noises accompany all of your movements. Now let’s say that an alligator swims in a line between the drifting logs and attempts to eat you. The last thing that you would have the patience to do is listen to this alligator read anything to you, even if it were your favorite book.

Before being born in this network, I did not use my computer at all; I did not even have an internet connection at my apartment. All that I cared about was literature, but I was at a point where I needed a break, because I had finished composing the first drafts of three thick volumes, and no one other than Diane Speetzen had read them. So when I joined this network, it was thrilling to be able to type a sentence (just a sentence, not a book!) and have the sentence instantly seen by "friends". This feeling of instantaneous publishing, or instantaneous recognition by an audience, however small, was the antidote to the poison of writing in solitude. But I knew that it was a dangerously addictive drug capable of destroying the entire mind of the Giant Albion.

(Sorry about that – just fell off my horse...)

I say that artists should not fault any online network for failing to find them an audience – any artist who desires to push the limits of possibility and increase the boundaries of perception will remain invisible to all but a select few who have "eyes to see and ears to hear" – for it takes one to know one; and the best minds are rare by definition, whereas the masses are, by definition, mediocre. I do not mean this as an insult: I respect the masses and I'm jealous of their mediocrity (because it means that they can be more easily loved) – after all, it is the masses of some upcoming generation by which the best minds want to be revered – the best minds desire the same admiration from future generations that the current generation shows for contemporary 'classics'.

The absence of an audience is hard to endure, but it's almost proof that one's work is beyond the ability of 'normal people' to perceive – and this should be the artist’s goal: to be unprecedented. To know that one is part of a group whose members have in common only the fact that they belong to no other group (on account of their originality) is a reward greater than money or present popularity. Plus, why would anyone lament being unpopular after considering the things that ARE popular?—here is where we could indulge in a tangent about [pop culture reference deleted].

What counts is that one becomes a part of the past that positively influences the topmost parts of the future.

We should expect that the same solitude & loneliness that our favorite artists suffered (for evidence of which, we can read their biographies) will be the price of achieving our own artistic goals. With this in mind, let's never again complain about being unknown.

...I'll end this now.

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