Today at work, I was able to get some reading done in Where Does Art Come From? by William Kluba. A bit of information has risen which touches on the probable reason it has been more difficult than not for me to allow myself to play creatively: I have grown not to trust myself and my intuition as things that are inherently “good.” Therefore I have no trust as to whether what I bring into the world is actually positive.
It does make it easier to just step back and consider myself more of a conduit than a source of creative material; but then that would seem to un-ground my creative inspirations from my lived experience, right? If your mind is frequented by spirits (like mine might be said to be — “haunted” is not the right term; as I live, they live), to the point where even your sense of self can change from day to day, it makes it more apparent that not all states and not all voices are inherently “positive.”
Maybe this term, or concept, “positivity,” is the problem. As someone who has personally struggled with both depression and detaching from reality, there is a need to maintain a view of life which moves away from the pole at which I no longer want to play the game. I’m thinking of utilizing Mindfulness to manage this. I know that at base I should at least begin meditation again, with an aim to reducing medications; but maybe I can factor mindful awareness into my art practice, and just try and let go of what I want my art to be and what I want my effect to be on the world.
As I was reading the aforementioned book, two thoughts came up: one is that what I’m dealing with is an inability to trust myself partially gained from a very long time of others implicating me as evil. The second derives from the first, which accepts the idea that I’m evil, so therefore nothing that comes from me can be good.
The first idea is something that has come up — basically — ever since I started having crushes on female-bodied people. When I was a youth, it was much more of a big deal than it is now to even be ambiguously-possibly-gay. And, of course, I was dealing with children and teens; you know how that goes. The way I got out of being massively targeted for harassment (well, partially: it still happened) was to be “badder” than the people who were targeting me.
I do still at times move into this “bad boy” type of mental space, especially when my gender identity swings male (as then I feel more vulnerable to targeting). Although I’ve committed no violent acts for the last 20-something years, the defensive mental space — the identity — that I had to be in as a youth, still persists. And it’s notable that I was seriously messed-up in high school; though with having slurs thrown at me anonymously from the crowd on a daily basis (apparently for the crimes of being too good at math, not being allowed to shave, and not being attracted to high school boys), I don’t know how I was supposed not to be.
At this point it’s visible that taking on the mantle of what I was called (because apparently everyone else saw something I didn’t see) and filling the role of one of the slurs which was slung at me, did me more harm than good. While it’s very apparent to me now at this point that calling myself “queer” is a term of pride and generic non-straightness (I’m in the U.S.; I know it is not this way in some other areas)…taking on the role of a masculine (celibate) lesbian because that was what everyone was telling me I was, was not the best move I could have made. The biggest point I can cite in this is that I wasn’t lesbian, and that I’m still not lesbian. They thought that my being female was relevant. (I suppose to them, it was; but to me it’s a fact of life, not a restriction as to what I can and cannot be.)
Beyond that, though…there happens to be some dynamic around queerness which, to some straight-and-narrow-minded people, 😉 implicates disease and evil. It took me years to get over my first crush, as to stay away from her I had to utilize some pretty hard-core mental conditioning which effectively harmed me. (I still don’t know if she had ever been attracted to me. What I know is that she treated me as human, and that was rare. I also knew that if I was going to love anyone at that time, it would have been her.)
Basically, to keep others from harming her as they had harmed me, I decided to stay away from her and end the relationship. It sounds romantic; but I had emotional scars for some years afterward. I really wanted to be with her — sorely — but I thought that if others saw us together as a couple, hell would rain down on her like it was raining down on me. I didn’t want to harm her, and abrogated the choice she could have made to be with me (as I saw her as straight [she was constantly whining about how she wanted a boyfriend], and I didn’t think she could make an informed decision — those were both my fault).
I don’t think I really got over it until the middle of University; maybe not even until later, when I had my first relationship.
But yeah; in this kind of miasma, I learned that sexuality was a bad thing (it could bring harm to others, even though that harm did not come from me) and that it was selfish. I don’t think straight people go through this.
While it was easy to experiment with gender…I can say that I’ve probably not ever to this point had a functioning, healthy romantic or sexual relationship. Well, one that was exclusive. Let me put it that way.
I did have something positive going with one person, but that was more like friends-who-played-around. They were not monogamous with me; I was fully aware of it, and didn’t really care (especially as I didn’t expect to live beyond 30). To this day I think that my openness to polyamorous relationships strikes some people (including some queer people) as perverse; like I’m just out for sex.
But right now, I don’t feel like I can satisfy one partner’s entire scope of needs — especially with my medications as they are. I have virtually no sex drive (which means a partner who is sexual may need to get that somewhere else), but I want or need emotional intimacy. And it would be nice if someone cared about me. I think some people do, but moving into that phase of a relationship would be something I’ve rarely experienced, and do not know how to reciprocate.
This gets into another phase of my life, where I felt that I was already outcast, so exploring those alternate pathways which I might have steered myself away from early on, were something I could experience with relatively little loss of status. I’m not sure the specifics are entirely relevant, but for a number of years I continued to deal with the idea that I, in some lexicons, was evil. Not that those lexicons were mine, but it’s clear that to some people who want to run the country, there’s something wrong at core with who I am.
And yes, there is still some utility for my “bad boy” persona. The problem with thinking of yourself as “bad” is that it can be a handicap if you know you want to bring goodness into the world. It can cast doubt as to whether you’re actually right — especially when you’ve gotten the message for decades that you aren’t. And sometimes that message can be internalized to the extent that you start believing that you aren’t, and start getting jealous of people who can think that you are — who may never have had it hammered into them that they weren’t good and right.
I can try and source my art from my personal experience, or I can try and source my art from the Spirits. The latter takes the pressure off of me. The former may be more relevant. If I source my art from what I know …internally, there is bound to be more depth; there is bound to be more personal content.
Ah, but see: now I’m mixing up “personal experience” and “spirit messages.” They kind of mesh together, for me. It’s much easier to work as though possessed; as though taking on a character role; holding some things to be true as versus indeterminate. In fact, I’d say that with writing, it’s much easier to write as not-myself; I just can’t trust what comes out of me, on those points.
I haven’t tried making art by doing this, yet; but it’s something to think about. There was some Surrealist I read about — Max Ernst — who would sometimes make art under the influence of a bird-spirit he called Loplop. If I get really stuck, maybe I’ll try this.
The problem then, though, can become differentiating that working method from the rest of reality; and the character you took on, from the rest of consciousness. The benefit is of being able to make a cogent statement; the drawback is that that statement may be wrong.
But people say wrong things, probably the majority of the time.
It isn’t being wrong so much that makes me hesitate, though: it is being harmful, plus being wrong. This is obviously not an issue for everyone, though.
Eh, maybe I should look at my art the way I look at my fiction. It doesn’t have to reflect some kind of absolute truth. It doesn’t have to reflect on my state as an artist or writer.
Yeah, maybe that will help…