Ballad of the Middle-Class Artist

I don’t know about you, but it’s fair to say I’ve experienced unpleasantness in my life, to some degree. And joy, probably to a similar degree. I feel like I’ve sailed through this life. When I see another of the countless documentaries about, say, one of the World Wars, the ones with the touching interviews of these men and women who have literally, (and I mean quite literally) stared at the gaping mouth of hell, the ones who’ve jumped off huge corrugated boats onto blasted beaches, who’ve seen for themselves the spectacle of divinely intertwined skin/arteries/flesh/bones being pulled apart, and seen how appallingly easy it turns out it really is to pull a person’s arm/head/body apart, and (get this), not just shred someone’s arm apart but very possibly either your friend’s or even your own: when I hear these people’s stories I come to the conclusion that I have no fucking idea what they’re talking about; that what some people have experienced, are even experiencing now in other deeply unfortunate parts of the world, will probably always be beyond my grasp. They have seen something I haven’t. They might as well be from a different planet.

And the point of this whole self-pitying rant is to wonder whether I’ve ever truly lived. And if I have lived, and I if I am indeed truly living as fully as I should/could, as authentically and truthfully as can be expected of a middle-class young man in his early thirties, of average intelligence and of average sensitivities, then the question begs to be asked: why do I feel so guilty, and what on earth am I supposed to make art about?

 

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