This morning I am making significant changes in how I use social media. This is part of a huge shift in my priorities in general. How I want to use my time. In some ways, it feels odd to do this now. It seems self-serving. Focusing on that very first circle of awareness at a time when there is so much immediate trauma in the distant reaches of my awareness.
I keep reminding myself that it is about balance. And about making room for genuine responses to the larger world. I do nothing to benefit the world, passing on memes or summarizing what I read in a news article. I have to acknowledge and then give up the desire to be the “first to know”. The currency of relevance. I am not relevant in terms of current events.
But I do have something to give.
I remember my publisher referring to books as “ferske varer” – produce that goes quickly out of date. And I get that – in our market-driven system – that is a fact. But I figure there has to be another way of approaching art. A way to avoid being swept up in the attention economy, the consumerist throw-away society.
I don’t think I am advocating preciousness. Just attention.
This is my problem. I’m not making blanket statements about the state of the arts.
I know there are artists who strive to make that one beautiful thing. And there are artists who are driven by other (legitimate) impulses. I think that I have spent years waiting for inspiration, in the sense that I have been expecting that the outside world would cause a worthy reaction: “The artist responds to their culture”, “Art needs to be relevant”. Relevant to who or to what? My culture – our culture changes so quickly. Maybe change itself is the only thing one can honestly respond to.
I need to slow down. Step away from social media’s armchair generals, and the what-I-ate-for-dinner photos. I need to turn off the podcasts I’ve been listening to for hours a day. I need quiet.
It may be age? If it is, so be it. Maybe I am old enough to recognize what stays. To be concerned with what stays.
Maybe art dies. The way Peter Brook talks about a deadly theater, I think there are deadly artworks on the walls of galleries, too. In books.
I’ve written seven books, including one that was consciously “relevant” and is dead to me now. I don’t want to do that again.
I don’t want to grasp at the present.
I’m making clay from recycled paper. An ouroboros in praxis.
This is not a treatise. It is a diary entry. Nothing more.