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901

I was reading an essay exploring the relationship between Henry Miller and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (it reads more profound when I use their full names), which also had some allusions to psychoanalyst Otto Rank and his essay Art and Artists. I found the quotes from Rank’s work to be heart-racing and so reproduce them so that you may make of them what you will:

“First, Rank’s thesis developed primarily in Art and Artists asserts that the neurotic is primarily a failed artist: ‘…the neurotic must first learn to live playfully, illusorily, unreally, on some plan of illusion – first of all on an inner emotional plane. This is a gift which the artist, as an allied type, seems to possess from the outset… the neurotic’s creative power…is always tied to his own self and exhausts itself in it, whereas the productive type [the artist type] succeeds in changing this purely subjective creative process into an objective one, which means that through ideologizing it he transfers it from his own self to his work… if he [the neurotic] seeks his salvation in artistic creation instead of in the development of his own personality, it is because he is still in the toils of old art-ideologies. A man with creative power who can give up artistic expression in favor of the formation of personality…will remold the self-creative type and will be able to put his creative impulse directly in the service of his own personality.’”

It goes on in this manner for quite some time. Before even beginning to discuss why on earth an issue like this is relevant to the types of people both interested and whole-heartedly unconcerned with art, I implore you to re-read that marvelous first line which I had to scan over and over over coffee and tarts: learn to live playfully, on an inner emotional plane. How often is it that we are instructed to revel in make-believe? Are we not pushed, by inner and outside forces, to act “more serious”? Not even children are permitted to have an imagination. As I understand it, we are all viewing the same clouds in the sky, but while one person sees a crocodile, and another sees a toilet brush, the over-bearing critical narrow-minded supervisor sees just – a cloud, and insists we see it the same. What’s even more striking is the idea that the neurotic is not one totally detached from reality but in fact the opposite, one so immersed in the principles and interactions which guide the sane majority that he must be reigned and told to calm down, to think unrealistically, for once.

The rest of the content of the quote deals, I think, not so much with the temperament of the artist but more universally the way in which we all ought to abide with ourselves. If we are able to reconcile the differences between our passion and our deeds, if we are able to momentarily ignore the doubt and the difficulty of doing what we love and make it not a detached act but a part of ourselves, then that moment possesses tremendous significance, and really, it’s not a continuation of that single instance, but rather burst after burst after burst, a series of these moments, which makes life worth living. We exhaust ourselves thinking about ourselves redirect_from:

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    worrying about, I should say. Most importantly comes those final words, to “give up artistic expression in favor of the formation of personality,” or, as the author of this paper puts it, to perform a “reprioritization, for as is evident in the last line the creative impulse is not being dismissed but directed first to the needs of the personality.” This is another sort of trouble that people get themselves entangled in, again within and outside of a creative process, that we become so confused by what we “ought to be doing” that we forget to nurture our own personalities and growth. Such a ridiculous idea, but absolutely true! How many people do you know associate themselves via fashion or music towards a particular group without once considering what their own individual aspects are? It happens to hipsters and sorority girls alike. How often do we bolt from one hurdle to another, college to graduate school, marriage to baby, without taking a slower pace to catch our breaths? It happens to immigrants and natives every day.

As a final note: clouds. Why concern yourselves with the warring of nations when above us clouds are always conflicting with one another? The rise up like the ocean and crash down like waves on a rock and after some hours of this nothing is left. When they get especially agitated and bloated with violence they burst and drop. It’s a very sad state of affairs to be under the sky all the time.