I am considering ego this morning, my own included, ego in the arts: an emotional minefield. The dangers become clear in social interaction as one artist might belittle another, not via a thoughtful criticism of their work but by a dismissal of the other artist as a person. If gender is part of that conversation, then a female artist might get dismissed on a rhetoric of her worth as only an object, a rhetoric of whether she is deemed first, and foremost, worth fucking. A conversation about ideas might devolve into a slimy puddle of a personal attack, the idea neglected to fray in the wind. A mutual paranoia might infest a group: –Whom does she know; is he a threat; is she useful to my social climbing; how many useful contacts can collect here tonight, contacts who can help me later?
Then there might be backstabbing, especially deplorable for its dishonesty, its hypocrisy.
The will to power is a common human failing.
How much of our art comes down to a why? That is, why does one do it? Beyond the shoves and restless sighs in the middle of the night, I mean, beyond the sense many artists have of lacking a choice in the matter. Why bother with the agonies of creation, revision, performance, exposure, and rejection? Because one has something to say? Ideally, yes. But why say it: to bludgeon others with one’s brilliance; to mark one’s territory; to create a sense of fulfilment and joy; to serve something greater that oneself?
If ego is a prison, how much do those pocked bars and stone walls, those mirrors, gaol one’s art?
I want to serve something greater than my little self. Yet how much of that sentiment is still my own ego, my urge to scream –Look at me! Look what I can do!
Nothing here is a new observation or a new idea. Nor is what gnaws me a new fire, or a fire lit just for me. I’m seeking clarity here. I keep stumbling, falling, and my knees are so stiff.