Fight smart, not hard?

Although I am not quite of the disposition to take photos of my work right now — the underdrawing wouldn’t quite be visible, anyway — on the 13th and 14th, I got a good amount of work done on my painting. The close history to that time had been pretty rocky, including a night of nearly no sleep between the 13th and 14th, for me. I think everyone is having a hard time sleeping, and none of us really know why, though the Daylight Savings Time change didn’t help.

So, today — I did manage to avoid an afternoon nap, and got a bunch of homework out of the way, in doing so. All I have left is a reflection and further corrections (I should go over this with a fine-toothed comb), and I’m good for the rest of the week. What can I do then? Painting! Hygiene! Exercise! Writing! Reading! Maybe not in that order!

Ah, right; I’ve got a class coming up. Non-academic class, but still. Maybe I should look at the textbook, tonight. I really have never read it, in-depth.

Anyhow…I was able to read a bit of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, and found it…well, disappointing. Particularly so, in the way the author frames “Creativity” (“with a capital C”), as he calls it. Apparently, for “Creativity” to take place, you have to have the thinkers/the creative people, the funders/enablers, and a receptive and judgmental community to disseminate the products to, which approves. That’s not really my definition of creativity…that’s more of a recipe for popularity, if anything. (His thoughts here may have had to do with the content of his sample, relatively few of which were artists or creative writers: most of the people asked to participate in the book, turned him down.)

Creativity and popularity tend not to precisely go together, from what I can see. It also makes no sense that a person like Van Gogh wouldn’t have been considered “Creative” in his time, but (under Czikszentmihalyi’s idiosyncratic definition) would have been, after his death and subsequent acceptance into the canon of Art History. (This runs parallel to the idea I read someplace else [I can’t find the reference at the moment], that art isn’t even really art if no one interacts with it…which makes me want to ask, “Then, what is it?” This is on top of the obvious question of why that specific criteria is applied, which privileges Art Critics over Artists [as best I can remember, that specific book was written by an Art Critic].)

This means that according to Czikszentmihalyi, whether a person is “Creative” is subject to the whims and vicissitudes of the cultural judgments of the time, which makes the concept pretty much irrelevant to anyone who is actually doing work just because they want to do it, or have to do it, which is more of a marker of, “creativity,” to me. Internal motivation is more important than external motivation, that is…though praise and recognition is, generally speaking, nice.

I am unaware of any artist who got into art for fame and/or fortune, mostly because it takes so much energy to gain skill and find one’s voice, that — there are other, more direct, methods if all one wants is to become rich. Or famous. But why anyone would want to become famous for its own sake, in this day and age, is difficult to imagine.

In any case, it’s much more pleasant for me to actually get into the state of creative flow, than it is for me to read about other people’s creative flow — which, granted, I never reached in the above book. Life is too short to read things you don’t want to read (after having received a foundational education, at least). There is a Reader’s Bill of Rights (which should be easily found on a Web lookup)…the Right to Not Finish, is one of them. Number 3, actually.

We’ve also been talking about the time issue, in my household: it’s been made very apparent by the last two years, that 1) the future can’t be predicted, and 2) you only get so many free minutes in a lifetime. How do you want to spend them? (Especially when you do not know if you’re to be reborn, how do you spend them?) Reading books you don’t want to read, or reading books you do want to read? Being a visionary (we do need our Steven Universes and Owl Houses created, after all), or taking up a destructive warrior mindset?

Even if the warrior-types succeed in destroying dogmas, there is no better thing to look forward to, without the visionaries.

In this, I was thinking about my past proposal of learning about the histories of the ideas of race and gender. M has recommended that I write out the reasons why I find some of these ideas (like the apparently beneficently sexist stance of Melvil Dewey) distasteful, then move on — instead of repeating and investing energy into the distasteful ideas and in essence, reifying them by doing so. (Of course, there’s some meme theory stuff in there, as well.) My intent had been to read in order to become more aware, and in order to help unlearn what the past 40 years have taught me about said topics.

Of course, though, it is much more pleasant to do positive work, as versus getting into the muck and grime of ideologies of control. Of course, I start talking about, “ideologies of control,” as a framing proposition to explore race and gender, and that puts me squarely back into Sociology. Which…as I think I’ve said, can be hard to tolerate.

So the question may be: having received the amount of training and experience I have had in trying to get by in this society, do I want to use that training and experience to attempt to dismantle systemic oppression by directly confronting and fighting it? Or do I want to see the issue and make my mark some other — indirect — way? Sociology itself would seem to indicate that the latter strategy may be more sustainable — and survivable.

Considering that both race and gender as concepts may subsist entirely in social construction, choosing not to waste my time on them as illusions (as I’ve ceased to spend time on a good deal [though not all] of metaphysics as illusory), may be worth a thought. …Though, gender, race, and the metaphysical are all very compelling ideas, even if they — or the patterns to be found in them, at least — are all (nearly) entirely socially constructed (or, in the case of metaphysics, inwardly experienced).

I suppose the question of why — or how — we even have the capability of conceiving such things, could be useful (and/or banal) to explore.

I’ve also got to remember that my family never taught me about racism — I had to find out about that on my own. Even if race is an illusion, the effects of that illusion are real.

…Which…does give me an idea for a series. Or several.

I suppose that no one has said it impossible to deal with the themes of race and gender, in my art. That’s a thin line, though — to challenge ideas of race and gender (or more widely, explore illusion [what we look like] and truth [who we are as living beings]) through art — as neither do I want to become a propagandist or satirist. Of course, it probably would take something a bit extreme — and intentional — to be considered propaganda. Satire is similarly usually obvious in its intent. The trouble lies in interpretation: though, I’m sure others’ interpretations are outside of my control. At least, that is, if I make good art.

Hmm. So the painting I’m working on, right now, is a remake of a different artist’s wall hanging, which is basically decaying with age. It’s actually really pleasant to see how they did this, by following their strokes and seeing their proportions. It’s also relatively calming: it seems to be, intentionally, Goddess-type imagery. I don’t think it’s the type of work I would do on my own (and it’s not being sold, before anyone goes there), but the technique is gorgeous, and it’s helping me learn flow in my strokes — which are at this point, done in General’s White Charcoal (so far as I can tell: it might be Conté crayon). I still have to seal those strokes with Glazing Medium (I’m thinking of adding a tiny amount of Zinc White), before I should move on to the actual painting.

Tomorrow I have to be up in the actual (!) morning. I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but there are some things I can do tonight, to prepare. It will make getting up, easier…and then, maybe I can get back to the canvas; that, or finish my homework to clear the rest of my schedule.

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