Monday, August 16, 2010

on being an artist

I would not call myself an exciting person. I don't partake of any illegal substances (dagga, cocaine, mescalin, sleeping pills, crushed Ritalin, socks (although smoking them probably isn't strictly illegal - ooh, double brackets!), heroine or the odd Ecstasy pill). I hardly drink anymore and when I drink, I don't get drunk (the night I drunk myself into a stupor in something ridiculous like three hours at Radile's party aside). I cannot hunch over a manuscript, scribbling furiously whilst clutching a cigarette and looking tortured with my unbrushed curly hair tousled by the wind (but then again my hair is so straight it probably wouldn't even be tousled by a hurricane). I don't write through the night and go through to the kitchen desperate for a caffeine fix, looking at the window-glass at my own reflection staring out of the darkness and thinking existential thoughts. I don't drink coffee and I go to bed at eleven. I get tired early.

I don't really party (I get bored after about twenty minutes in a club like Friars, but maybe that's a poor example of a place to have a good time) and I don't dazzle exclusive people at exclusive restaurants with my extraordinary wit and charm (although I like to think my dry sense of humour can charm some people). I enjoy house parties where I can meet interesting people and talk to them, but even that often gets dull after a while as the things that drunk or high people find amusing are often not as entertaining to someone as sober as I (usually) am.

What I do find entertaining, tragic, amusing, intriguing, puzzling and enormous good fun is learning more about the infinite variety of people in the world by watching them, reading about them, listening to them on the radio or reading what they have to say in newspapers and magazines. What I am enjoying even more is describing what I see in the fabulous fund of words that are available to me.

And that is what I find exciting about my life. It is not wild or "artistic" in the traditional sense of the word, but if I can create messy, exciting, dangerous art; why do I need to live a dangerous life?

That may make it sound like I wish to live vicariously through my art, but that is not quite it. It gives me great satisfaction to have beautiful, nourishing relationships with people that are not sustained by wild parties or psychedelic trips onto other planes. I love talking and finding out more about the world, or going for walks or runs in green valleys or on rocky mountains. I love going to a dance class and then coming home and after a therapeutic shower (another of life's little quiet ecstasies), getting into bed with book, pen and paper. Of course sharing that bed with someone else is a not-so-quiet ecstasy that is an important part of my life, but that's another story.

I have often heard it said that some people's lives are so incredible that their lives are like works of art. Those people - although they may wish to - often cannot create art because they live art. My life may not be the stuff of a Hunter S. Thompson or even a Conradian adventure story, but it enables me to observe and minutely capture the intricacies of life around me and preserve them as though in rich, warm amber. I would not call myself an exciting person, but I would call myself an artist.

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