September 16, 2010

I See it Feelingly

When I am creating an image, I am aware of my own role in translating what I know and feel into an art piece, and I am aware also of having my own standards for that creative process. Those standards are not based on a desire for difference or a desire for conformity or a desire for comprehension, or frankly any desire at all. If my work is, by any other person's standard, familiar, or does not conform, or is incomprehensible, so it is.

The painting is not there to convince any other mind of anything at all; the painting is there as proof to the painter that an inner life exists. The painting is there as a reiteration that an inner life matters -- that comprehension is possible, and reflection is necessary, and that aggression and action are often not.

This activity, done alone, to silent standards, with a self-defined process, to the satisfaction of only the author, is activity that does not cause harm to others, does not pull resources from others, does not impede on others. Almost all other human interactions, it seems, do all of those things. Sometimes unduly.

And when these things are done by people who are not aware of their own role in translating their feelings or experience into actions, or who are not aware that they can apply standards and judgement and self-control to their beliefs, real harm results.

Of course one reason this is on my mind is that it is election season in America again, and a fresh crop of strident believers has taken the national stage. Several of them seem unfamiliar with the idea of reason or evidence-based debate...but of course they don't have to be, because they base their movements forward in life on their own emotional responses.

Listening to them, I realize that I truly do not know what they see when they look at the same object, person, or moment as me. I suspect they see every one and every thing as tagged and named, all the better to organize into categories. I suspect their thoughts are tagged too -- "acceptable" or "unacceptable" and "blasphemy" or "God's very own words delivered into my very own skull." They profess as much; I should believe them when they do. And I should know what is coming next: the imposition onto others of a personal ideology that is not impacted by evidence or experience beyond the speaker's own feelings.

Any remotely sensitive person often becomes a receiver for others' emotional incoherence, and I would guess any super-intelligent person (yes I am thinking of you, random awesome NASA scientist) becomes a caretaker for others' intellectual mess-making, or intellectual vacuity. In this we have no real choice.

We all have to live with the loud crank who spews the stupid as if it is brilliance (yes I am thinking of you, Newt Gingrich), always unduly. And their limitations are harmful. Like this morning...when a gentlemen who had just picked up his dry cleaning approached a group of us clinic escorts outside of Planned Parenthood, and gleefully offered us all easy-to-use hangers.

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