Pearls from artists* # 435December 30, 2020
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Most artists are not as estranged from their fellow human beings, as bereft of reasons for existing, or as alienated from the common values and enthusiasms of the world as are the outsider characters created by existential writers like Kafka, Camus, and Sartre. But insofar as artists do regularly feel different from other people, a differentness experienced both as a sense of oddness and a sense of specialness, they identify with the outsider’s concerns and come to the interpersonal moment in guarded or distant fashion.
In part, artists are outsiders because of the personal mythology they possess. This mythology is a blend of beliefs about the importance of the individual, the responsibility of the artist as a maker of culture and a witness to the truth, and the ordained separateness of the artist. Artists often stand apart on principle, like Napoleonic figures perched on a hill overlooking the battle.
The artist may also find himself [sic] speechless in public. Around him people chat, but he has little to offer. Too much of what he knows and feels has gone directly into his art and too much has been revealed to him in solitude – infinitely more than he can share in casual conversation.
Eric Maisel, A Life in the Arts: Practical Guidance and Inspiration for Creative and Performing Artists
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