How does an artist create without emotion?
More importantly, why are the negative emotions the most fruitful?
I write often, not just because writing is nice. (It is, but that’s not the point.) On a boring, uneventful day, even if I felt like writing, what would I write about? There would be no subject matter. And, even if there was, where would the incendiary emotion come from?
I write because I am stimulated, often negatively, which is why the words I am most proud of are my world-mocking satires or simply my world-mockeries. I don’t know what would become of me if I was just ‘fine’. What is the meaning of this world anyway? It’s a state of okay-ness, representing no emotion in particular – an annoying declaration of stark neutrality. Look at all the great art that exists in the world and tell me that the artists could have produced what they did, if all they were feeling was ‘fine’.
Over the past few months, I seem to have established my own reputation as a writer/poet and occasional visual artist. The words that propelled me to this status were, not surprisingly, mostly sarcastic. See, I’m your classic example of the greatly-stereotyped high-school (afro-) gothic tortured-artist teenager: often very moody, talks about death a lot, emotionally explosive (a personality test the members of my TOK class were made to take confirmed that fall into the category of neuroticism), 90% of my wardrobe is black (the other 10% is white and grey), and I’m just constantly WRITING.
The irony: everyone knows I’m a writer, but only a small percentage actually knows what I write – because they are content enough to accept the reputation while lacking the interest to actually read the works that made me earn it.
There are a number of musicians – mostly rock musicians – who failed at music, got mad about the unfairness of life, made music out of their frustration, became famous because of it, lost their rage, and faded back out of fame (example: Alanis Morissette). See that? What is an artist without his emotion? Then there’s also how Vincent van Gogh, whose work was virtually worthless until it was discovered that he was the paragon of a tortured soul. Chale, this posthumous business…I’m unamused.
Anyway…take away my easy frustration, sadness, hysterics, excitableness, off-and-on fluctuations, and what will become of my writing? I will still be able to use the English language, but to what effect? To tell other people’s stories? If, now, I create fiction to escape reality, what will be the need to create fiction when I’m content with reality?
“Tortured Artists,” by Christopher Zara, has been a very interesting read. It chronicles the relevant parts of many famous tortured artists and their highlighted demons, and how they propelled their work. Also, Christopher Zara’s snark and wit is priceless.
I do believe in the “tortured artist” myth. But psychological torment isn’t the only stimulant of art. Psychological anything, really. I just believe that it can’t actually be great unless an artist puts a part of himself in it.
“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” –Oscar Wilde.