I woke up still dragging (Well, of course, I’m still dragon. Who would I be? But not Tiamat. More on that later.)
And in a spectacularly strange move, because though I’m religious I’m not pious (or perhaps I’m pious not religious. Sometimes it’s hard to tell) I found myself browsing kindle books for prayer books, over breakfast. (I could tell you how I got there: from a funny reference to a prayer book, in the current read, and then at speed down the rabbit hole. Never mind. It is worse when I’m sickish, yes.)
Most of the books I found were unexceptionable, but then I found one about “the angels prayers for creatives” or something of the kind, and since it was very short and had very good reviews, oh, and also free, I “bought” it.
First, and before I dive down that particular thread that turns into the meaning of this post, as far as it has meaning, let me tell you I HATE most “angel revelations” “angel prophecies” and “angel prayers” and “angel gifts.”
Not just because some of them have a “bad smell” (I really wish that people who purportedly believe in angels would understand that “angel” means messenger, and it is no garantee of WHOSE messenger these are.) but because most of them are bizarrely vapid and new agey, picturing angels as pretty girls in nightgowns and giving them names out of “The New Age Baby Names Book.”
It tells you how weak (minded) I feel, and perhaps how hard I was fighting sitting down and doing actual work-like stuff that I actually downloaded it.
In terms of names, this book is no exception. The bad smell is more subtle.
I’ve read about half of it, and will probably skim the rest when I take a break. But I’ve already gone “Oh, for the love of Bob!”
First, though, why I downloaded it, I think, and because, like even very bad movies have at least ONE good line in them, even stuff that’s just not right can help with an insight. One of the things it suddenly made me realize is that I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write with the idea of what it can do for my family in terms of $$. Husband has told me this is stupid, I think, only in terms that weren’t making them through the thick skull. (I self identify as a bone-headed dragon.) Or because they’re not the right terms for me. He keeps telling me it doesn’t matter if I make money, it matters if I’m happy. But the pursuit of happiness, by itself and for itself has never motivated me, and I know d*mn well it matters if I make money.
OTOH trying to motivate myself with money doesn’t work, because to quote a friend years ago, “You might as well be driving a truck, then.”
What I mean is when any creative endeavor becomes just a way of making money, my subconscious (I won’t speak for anyone else) locks up tighter than Fort Knox back when our currency was gold-based. Because, well, there must be easier and less embarrassing ways of making money. Like panning for gold in your shower, for instance.
Sure, making money will always be part of my motivation, but I need to … After years of working for trad pub, after the collapse of everything in 2003 when the only thing that kept me working was “we’re paying on TWO mortgages” I need to find the place where I write because I have to, because it feeds some essential part of who I am. It’s been worn down to a nubbin, and might be mostly dead ( for 17 years now, it’s been, to be honest, like using a coffee carafe to dig in the flower beds [one of the funniest, real, amazon reviews ever. The question is not whether it broke. The question is why you thought that was a good idea.]) but there have been stirrings recently, and things that unexpectedly came alive, and so I know it’s not fully dead. Now I need to figure out where it’s hiding. And stop beating it with the “We need money whip” even if 2020 is attempting to drain all our resources. (No. Really. Between cats and cars, not counting health and other stuff. Never mind. We won’t starve. But… I have serious security issues.) I need to find where the vein of “it’s alive” runs and channel it.
Anyway, the bad smell…. The bad smell is that it seems to think you live for and by and in yourself.
One of the things it says is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t do anything creative, your life is your creation, and therefore you are creative.
Can anyone find my eyes? I think they rolled under the sofa. Yeah, that’s it, would you dust the cat hair off them? Thanks. Oh, good. Okay. Good thing I’m a touch typist.
Most of it seems to be self-esteem pumping up, which is great, except you have to have something to be proud of. Otherwise you just become very proud of stewing in mediocrity, and you think you’re too good to actually apply yourself to anything, and at the end of that lies despair and self-hatred.
It reminded me quite a bit of other books I’ve been reading.
So, I have a near-toxic disbelief in psychology and psychotherapy. (It’s the part of me that is not very religious, or pious, or whatever. I already am forced by the fact that grandma handed it to me, to believe in a messianic religion. I don’t need a mostly pseudo-scientific one in addition.) but some psychiatric-friends of mine have convinced me to do exploratory reading to deal with some stuff (okay a lot of stuff) that I probably should see someone for, if I trusted people to go grubbing around in my mind (honestly, I just don’t want people to accidentally traipse into an unwritten novel and either break something or get broken for good.) Some of the books have been very helpful, others less so.
One of them linked childhood issues with auto-immune, and yes, while my childhood was almost exactly what they describe gives “auto-immune”, I don’t think the entire thing is that simple. Sure, stress can bring about a massive auto-immune attack. Last year, I had the experience of having a full blown one, including wounds on both hands, and it healing over the course of a day when a month-long stress inducing issue was resolved.
So I’m not going to say the psychological isn’t involved. I’m going to say “And?” Because this thing, i.e. my internal ticking clock is also not entirely under my control, just like writing isn’t. I can TELL myself I’m perfectly calm, but the asthma and the eczema know better. And I don’t think it’s a matter of “letting out my childhood anger” either, seriously, because the auto immune runs in the sanest branch of my family. Granted, those are also the depressive obsessives. (Yes, they are the sanest. Also, shut up.)
Anyway, there is a newagish branch of thought that turns to solipsism in that they ascribe everything including the common cold to “you decided to catch this.”
In the end that’s what this book does. “You need to be your biggest fan” and “you’re your own greatest work of art.”
Look, if I’m a work of art, I want to speak to the manager. Also, on the serious side, if there is an intelligence behind it all, it’s not me making myself my greatest work of art.
Solipsism is comforting. Particularly for those of us who for various reasons felt unsafe and scared as children. It assures us nothing can happen to us that we don’t consent to.
But because it’s not real, and tons of things happen to you (and your creativity) that you not only didn’t consent to, but for which you were given no safe word, in the end it’s a self-devouring philosophy.
It occurred to me the other day that leftism is the position of terrified (or neglected) children, who, in their hurt conjure the state as the perfect parent they wish they had, and also believe they can control it.
(For this, we used to have religion, which is if nothing else safer. Never mind.)
So, if you believe that you are your own greatest art work, and know how flawed you are, that way lies self hatred and by extension hatred of humanity and everything, really.
Worse, it’s hatred you can’t admit to.
So, I’ll take the point of “I can’t do this just out of need for money, or out of obligation. I must do this, because that’s who I am.” And I’ll try to make it accessible, understandable, and worthwhile (Not necessarily beautiful, though there’s beauty in art done right. But, you know, life isn’t all pretty women in nightgowns and with pretty wings. And worlds aren’t all pretty pink planet.) Because whatever art — or in my case craft — is, it is communication more than anything else.
But it is important not to think we Tiamat. Because if we think we’re everything, the children of our minds will tear us apart and hollow us out to build the universe.
And in the end all that will be left is a dead universe. Because you’re not the be all/end all of everything there is.
Thank heavens for that. It is important to remember, you’re not responsible for the parlous state of our politics, the ridiculous state of our politicians, or the appalling state of our arts.
You cannot be held responsible for all the failures of the universe. Offload that world from your shoulders, Atlas.
Tend your own garden. Do what you can do. For the rest you must trust other minds and time and world without end.