WHAT IS ART?

Often I wonder where the stuff in my head comes from, but I choose to accept it as my gift, not to the world, but rather the gift to myself, for in the end I will be the only one who understands me, and appreciates who I am. Today someone called me egotistical, and I’m not sure it was in jest, but I had to laugh, because I think that egotistical writer is an oxymoron (even one who hasn’t been writing lately). I think it’s possible to write and have an ego, but I don’t think it’s possible to be a writer and have an ego. I think that for writers writing is a hole we dig, and the more we write, the deeper the hole gets, and as the hole gets bigger, we find that people are able to fall into it, or hang out at the edge and throw their shit into it, but it’s a hole; make no mistake about it. I am deep inside that hole, and I’ve dug it far from prying eyes, and away from the people who will take advantage of vulnerabilities, but they exist, and every time you read something I write, or laugh at a joke I make, if you look deeply into the words, you will find me hiding between the lines trying to scream, but only managing to whisper in code.

It’s all so mysterious and shit, but in the end it will be the flesh that has been pecked away at that will be remembered when I leave a room. It will not be the outer shell that I’ve so proudly worked on over the years. I will not be remembered for my gym toned body, or how good I look on a board, or even my smile, which does not photograph well, but still draws people into my web. I will not be remembered for my wit, or my laughter, or even my voice, which I have worked so hard on. If you pause for one second, and think about it, you will remember my distance. You will remember the handshake that is short but strong and then removed. You will remember the eye contact that fades with conversation and you will remember that when I leave the room, I will have said a lot, but I will not have told you anything.

Writers do not wear their history on their sleeve like the divorced woman down the street, who bitterly subjects all her friends to her lovelorn sagas. Writers look at you and smile with understanding. Writers empathize and sympathize, but never share. Writers believe in honesty but they define it differently than you do. Writers believe in hope, but only to write about, and not to live.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all this vulnerability stuff lately and how where the rest of the world wears scar tissue, I wear an exoskeleton. I don’t believe in people anymore, or at least I haven’t in a long time. I treat everyone I know like they are waving a knife at my throat and my only goal is to get away unskaved. I look into people’s eyes when they’re not looking, and I listen when they’re not talking. I treat people like they have a knife because I’ve been cut, and it sounds cliché and trite, but it’s true. My hands have been bloodied with my own blood holding my throat while I unsuspectingly let someone I love cut it, and the sharp pain of the blade was only felt after I felt the blood tickling my chest, and running down my stomach. I remember the terror of the wound, and way my heart beat inside my neck so loudly I thought I would be able to hear it if it weren’t for my panic. I remember kneeling in the street and having people walk past me unaware of my plight, and I remember the tears I cried alone with only smoke and regret to keep me company. I remember everything so vividly that I can write about it, around it, through it, on it … anything. I can take this pain and twist it into a joke, or turn it into anger, or rage. I can describe the noise my heart made when it broke, or the path that the blood took down my chest, and I can do this artfully and without emotions, or even with them. It doesn’t matter. I don’t feel those things anymore. I only am aware of them.

So when someone calls me egotistical I laugh, because true art is born from insecurities and pain … and by the way, art is discovered, it is not bartered and sold on the open market. It is not a math problem to solve. Art is not the cut, or the knife, or the blood … Art is the whiff your soul makes when it leaves your body empty and alone, art is standing by yourself in a room screaming silently … Art is the sound of one hand clapping.

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