Thinking about what makes an artist.
An artist is someone who can and prefers to go deeper into chaos and darkness and light than other people. Artists always are looking for the biggest fish and talking to the biggest dragons.
If you think this is b.s. I'm guessing you haven’t met those big fish or talked to those big dragons. They are very real and they are very dangerous. People truly do lose their minds in this world and do horrible things. And it's those things in the chaos, the things beyond our total understanding that are there each time those things happen.
We live in a time when art is relegated to entertainment. All stories are suspect. Karl Popper's scientific method is applied to the metaphysical, something he objected to. Art is subjected to the lens of the argument, of the simple rational, the agenda, the simple statement. The fact that artists capitulate to the question, “what does this mean?” is a surrender. The point of the art experience as far as I understand is to encounter the things whose meaning still evades us. Art provides us experiences more robust than a simple linguistic answer. Answering that question is like attempting to answer a question like, “why do you have no purpose?” The question itself maps out a battlefield in which you are already on the back foot. It's a form of gaslighting. It’s an officer ordering a soldier to dig up and fill a hole that serves no purpose other than to put the soldier in place.
We either have to answer to the simple rational questions of the holdovers from modernity or prove our credentials of obsequiousness to identity politics. Often it is a mix of the two. Art is now subject to serve.
The simple rational thinkers are salmon fishers. They provide food know their business. They are consistent and we need them. We need more salmon fishers than big fish hunters. We know salmon really exist and when the big fish hunters come back empty handed, which they often do, they need to eat.
Identity politics hate the ideas of big fish. I don't really understand why, so I'll leave this short. Maybe it is because the worldview of identity is a complete system and bringing back a big fish from the ocean could collapse their system that provides them moral authority and a sense of purpose to cover up a deep lack of an individual self.
Not all of those big fish exist. That's not what I want to say. Those big fish don’t exist as how we imagine them from the shore. You don't know what they look like until you meet them. They may exist in a rational way that we have yet to understand, the theory of special relativity before Einstein described it. A rational order we have yet to understand, something meta rational or maybe non rational if that exists.
The simple rationalists like what keeps them fed and safe, the certain. The resources for looking for the big fish is a waste perhaps; but maybe the deeper reason is they secretly want those big fish themselves and lack the courage. They cannot risk uncertainty.
Artists are just something a little different. They breathe uncertainty. When things are a little off they get excited. When a door appears to open by itself, others back away but the artist moves closer. Artists want to see the monster. We want to talk to it if we can.
Life is mixed metaphors. It is paradoxes which we don't understand but stand as true. The amount we know is seemingly tiny compared to what we do know.
Why look for big fish, why talk to the big dragons? Because they are there, and they are moving.