July 07, 2009

An Incredible Artist

Peter Doig

It's called Reflection (What Does Your Soul Look Like?). How amazing would it be to see through this man's eyes.

Contemporary art, contrary to what a visit to the Tate Modern may lead you to think is not just about defying beauty, some are still interested in keeping it as a value, like goodness, and wisdom, and making their art simply about this.


You can be a brazen careerist and keep your soul.

Writing about web page http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/12/18/bad-career-advice-do-what-you-love/

It's endless. Make money or sell your soul...paint, or be an investment banker. And if you have even the slighest divergence of interests i.e. are not a machine you'll be made to feel guilty for choosing to pursue the more profitable talent because the tattered artist travelling the world broke and scrounging off a shrinking circle of friends is only endearing in movies.

When you get stuck in a creative career that's failing, lots of people start defining themselves in their work-a supposed danger of choosing something more mainstream that gives you money. Corporate ladders can be hypnotic and bad for your relationships, but so can people who are constanlty preaching at you about their values, and how the materialistic, consumer-driven world should be buying their salvation in the form of their art.

Here's what Penelope had to say:

One of the worst pieces of career advice that I bet each of you has not only gotten but given is to "do what you love."

Forget that. It's absurd. I have been writing since before I even knew how to write – when I was a preschooler I dictated my writing to my dad. And you might not be in preschool, but if you are in touch with who you are, you are doing what you love, no matter what, because you love it.

So it's preposterous that we need to get paid to do what we love because we do that stuff anyway. So you will say, "But look. Now you are getting paid to do what you love. You are so lucky." But it's not true. We are each multifaceted, multilayered, complicated people, and if you are reading this blog, you probably devote a large part of your life to learning about yourself and you know it's a process. None us loves just one thing.

Often, the thing we should do for our career is something we would only do if we were getting a reward. If you tell yourself that your job has to be something you'd do even if you didn't get paid, you'll be looking for a long time. Maybe forever. So why set that standard? The reward for doing a job is contributing to something larger than you are, participating in society, and being valued in the form of money.

Here's some practical advice: Do not what you love; do what you are.

Relationships make your life great, not jobs.  But a job can ruin your life – make you feel out of control in terms of your time or your ability to accomplish goals –  but no job will make your life complete. It's a myth mostly propagated by people who tell you to do what you love. Doing what you love will make you feel fulfilled. But you don't need to get paid for it.




On Writing

The way to rock oneself back into writing is this. First gentle exercise in the air. Second the reading of good literature. It is a mistake to think that literature can be produced from the raw.

Virgina Woolf


The Game by Neil Strauss

The five hours before my flight back home were spent curled up on a friend's sofa reading this book. It's about how socially awkward, conventionally unattractive guys who see themselves as social failures can get women into bed, as fast as possible, with as much success as possible (like a 90s success rate). A movement that started up on msn chatrooms, these pickup gurus work out their own strategies based on evolutionary psychology, psychology, something about astral projection...basically everything you'd find if you trawled the net for things explaining why we are the way we are and how you can manipulate it.

The odd thing is that it works. And the book is a cult offering that i hadn't known about-from Barney, on How I Met Your Mother=straight out of there, to lots of entrepenuerial blogs (from people who've actually made it) to the odd tendencies of some guy friends. Although as someone reactionary and opinionated it was tempting to hurl it across the room in a display of my disdain and general-I-am-so-above-this-cheap-superficial-trickery-because-I-believe-in-honesty-and sincerity etc, it made a lot of sense with people in general.

A couple of things. Most people don't really set boundaries, and they're way more elastic than we assume. Unexpected physical contact, someone asking something extremely personal, and generally letting go of the need to come across as interesting (by showing all the ways in which their life is awesome and how much they've achieved, although that ends with them sounding like an arrogant arse more than impressing you-slight twinge of guilt here) and instead just being interested in what they're being told and who they're with-that works. No one is as together and as impenetrable as the other guy imagines. It's a relief to have someone drop the act and the pretensions that come with trying to be 'somebody'.

Not that being bored isn't a good way to get what you want-enter the 'neg'. This is how you get someone who ranks higher than you (here in looks-women all get a rating, to one decimal point precision-but let's make this apply to any kind of status) to care that you exist and want to please. Telling a hot girl, used to being fawned over, that she has a cute bugs bunny overbite, or that her dress is really hot right now, in fact you just saw two other girls wearing it-and then making a point of ignoring her in favour of everyone else, that works too. Also, learning to see through women's 'shit tests'-the way we gauge how much you're willing to make a fool of yourself and compromise to have us, and not responding, that's a part  of it too. Translate into context of work and internship interviews, and then suddenly the idea becomes more compelling and it's easier to ignore the shallow, vain and needy picture he paints of women as a sex.

Thankfully though by the end of this autobiography of sorts, all the 'gurus' wind up religious recluses disgusted by their former lives or succumb to 'one-itis', one woman committment. Entertaining, and a bracing reminder of the commonality of people for those who generally tend to overthink things.


Thoughts about first year (far too much time on my hands)

Love after 1 am is like the fifth quarter of an orange.

I hope Joan Harris doesn't mind my filching her phrase but it fits my purpose. Just because you can conceive of it doesn't mean that it exists. It's true that it's not what you're really looking for on a night out-The Smiths in How Soon is Now? paint a suitably neurotic and deadening picture of what it would be like if it was:

There's a club, if you'd like to go

You could meet someone who really loves you

So you go and stand on your own

And you leave on your own


and obviously we're all far too well-adjusted for that. That doesn't mean that however that it hasn't crossed your mind that maybe you're about to bump into that perfect person who will more than justify all the terrible vodka that you downed to make the night seem more than just another routine, and wipe out any consternation you may be feeling about what kind of relations it may have with the paracetamol you took (as a clever pre-emptive measure when you lovingly pulled out the new heels from the box that may have done better to be framed and worshipped from a distance rather than on your feet). There's no way of telling when, where or how these demi-gods and godesses float into our lives, so why not on a night out? You're with friends, it's safe, inhibitions are low-so why is it never a decent time to make a connection any deeper than your tongue can go?

...Although the other kind does have its occasional merits.


Twilight

Woman, Bird in Twilight

There is a hairline between alone and lonely. Loneliness means laughter pealing in your ears, a sound akin to glasses breaking while you're stood in a corner at a party reaching, reaching outside the window and hoping to take off as the noise and layers of happiness on the floor, like rings of bark marking the hours and faces, turn more less fragile, more liquid and the hosts know that the hit of euphoria that they so carefully cultivated has kicked in. It is an empty room when the lights are on everywhere else beyond that quiet doorstep.

Being alone, on the other hand. That is what happens when you leave that place, those places. Tonight I left and decided to be alone. Take a journey that had no memories to weave themselves around my feet as cats do, and distract you as their hunger for attention distracts them, purring and biting in turn keeping you involved and keeping that head down (which is the goal). Someplace that had no one else's scent that wasn't earmarked in the back of my mind by someone else's authority. I took twilight by the hand. Now, the last time we grazed hands was in another country. 'The past is another country' right, I know, but this is geographical distance measured in degrees of coolness, indifference, in how much my very smell had changed. So there I was, nervous about the night. I'd only had some vague contact, a flush from the velvet sky when i was feeling particularly downtrodden. Was there more than the usual, more to be found here, this lit up darkness? The velvet darkness held my hand back. It was no where too. It was not a place or a destination. Like me, it was lost and found itself in my uncertainty as I did in it.


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  • thank for this.. I must set some time aside to sit on the sofa myself for this by sofa reading on this entry

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