Monday, May 25, 2009

Things are not what they seem; nor are they otherwise

I have a hard time with the concept of individuality.

First, there’s something very tenth grade about the idea of embracing your uniqueness. I picture my friend drawing swirls emanating from a figure, its hands open to the sky. It’s not that I don’t value that sweet expression of a certain concept of self-identity, it’s just that I’m dubious that it’s so unique. I mean, don’t you know someone who drew swirls? (The drawing above is the first that came up under “stoned drawings” in a Google image search)

And then, somehow I’ve learned that I must not confuse a sense of self for uniqueness, because that would be forgetting my privilege. It’s ingrained in my head that any revelation is somehow indulgent and blinded. Don’t feel special, just feel guilty.

Then there are the Buddhists of course and the assertion of no-self. The fragile understanding I have of no-self – the idea that a fixed, intrinsic identity does not exist – in fact can yield a great freedom, because the pressure is off. I am what I am in a context, and there’s nothing much I can do about it, for or against it.

What I am trying to say here? Oh yeah. As artists we have to do our own thing. We can’t be someone else, because we’re not. But, the individual doesn’t exist. So is that a contradiction or what?

“Things are not what they seem; nor are they otherwise.” Sensei Ogui

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