Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Brotherly Conversation Continued (from previous post)
The conversation with my brother continued:
I have a friend -- a literary critic and writer -- who has a term for the "significance" thing. He refers to the impetus behind being a real writer, artist, musician...whatever the creative pursuit....as being "obligate". It's something you can't not do.
I have people approach me all the time expressing their wish to be an artist. It's a weird longing. It's a weird inquiry. In a sense, you either are or you aren't. You're either already doing creative pursuits or you aren't an artist.
I didn't start making pottery because I thought it would sell. I started making pottery because it was such a rewarding creative endeavor by which I could express myself.
It was in the creating -- the making -- that it became obvious that people might also be interested in what I was making. The dog wagging the tail is to be making and discover there is a market. The tail wagging the dog is looking at the market when you don't have anything new to offer it.
I still pursue other creative outlets. I'm obligate. I need to play music. I need to write. There is no market for either. I get it that most male Americans will never understand that.
My songwriter friends have almost universally experienced this. They'll be playing a gig and someone will approach them after they've sung one of their originals. And the question asked is always something like "Is that a real song, or did you just make that up?"
It's a real divide. I get it that folks like me who can't not play music or write poems are a rarity. Most of America thinks (without thinking) that art as a career is some straight line career choice. It's usually not. It usually isn't pursued as a career. It is pursued because the pursuit itself lends meaning and significance to life.
On some level I get it. Most of us are culturally bound to the idea that the only thing worth pursuing is something to which we can affix a dollar compensation for. And so we say "I wish I could make a living by doing something cool that would make other people admire me" ....and one of those things we dream that people admire is the creative arts. That was certainly true for me.
But the "Catch 22" of the whole thing is that if you aren't already pursuing the arts because you have to, then you have almost no chance that you are going to successfully experience them for a living.
The market for commercially viable trinkets'n'things is positively glutted with foreign import crapola that can be bought for next to nothing.
No smart craftsman is even going to attempt to compete in that market that is already suitably served by the mass-produced.. If that's what a fella's bent was in the first place, they'd have likely pursued manufacturing or engineering.