Sunday, 4 September 2016

Every so often in life one comes up against narcissism, one's own and other peoples. In love it's a complete nightmare because narcissistic behaviour goes against everything that love embodies and makes loving excruciating. But it doesn't just happen in love.
As an artist I am conscious of my own narcissism, being an artist demands some narcissism, or is it self worth, because unless your work is photographic in execution, and perhaps even then, it is a form of self expression. 
What tips the balance over from healthy narcissism to unhealthy narcissism ? Is there an obvious marker or does it vary within context ?
Some people seem to have no doubt. For me, lack of doubt is one of the most un-nerving characteristics I can meet in a person. Those who are absolutely certain very rarely give leeway, or allow room for another to manoeuvre, and often they expect the world to revolve around them. I find their company  fairly painful - dull and confining. 
But then the ability to be decisive is also important. Recently when I was making my piece Sutram, part of the pleasure of making it was making decisions about the placement of each thread, the choice of site and materials. And yet in making those choices I have to go through a period of intense experimentation in my studio, making awful things that only really good friends get to see, and the final weeks are full of doubt as there is a high element of winging it when making a work that is designed to be responsive and connected in body to the site in which it is placed. 
Back to narcissism, confidence is, I think, the lynch pin.  As a confident person I am able to own my space in the face of questioning and yet also I am able to realise that questions arise as a result of things not being fixed, that my ideas, notions and being are not the central point but are held within many points, that right and wrong are subjective, and no-ones right goes above and beyond another's right.
I touched upon this in an earlier blog post in which I was looking at the 1998 Human Rights Act which is currently under threat in Britain. 
When I was looking at it before I had a somewhat revelatory moment when I realised that this act covers all of us. All of us. Not just the people who think like us, who want the same things as us, who live like us, but everyone. Under the Human Rights Act (HRA) we are all protected. 
I have slipped away from narcissism, or have I ? A narcissist suffering from NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) would put their needs above anothers without any doubt or recourse to conscience. Is it possible that a country or culture could be considered narcissistic ? Is war narcissistic ?  In peace there is no one better.  A leader who advocates peace is surely worth hundreds who advocate war. War seems to be the ultimate narcissistic act and the use or trading of weaponry for social, political or financial benefit suggest a peculiarly oblivious kind of mentality - psychotic or stupid or both. 
I'm musing about this stuff because it messes with my head and taking it out of my head and putting it on paper or in a blog or into a piece of work allows me to see my questions from outside of myself. My self is important to my well being, of course, and it is ultimately where my work stems from, but I am just one small self, one part of a much, much greater body of selves each one of equal worth. For me it's important to remember that. 

Perhaps I should add as a post script that confidence fluctuates and there are times and situations when my confidence plummets. I think that confidence is built in us as children and childhood is an emotionally dangerous time because we are subject to those who care for us. If we have been lucky we will grow through childhood to be balanced beings able to meet, know and measure our own needs and other people's and make appropriate decisions accordingly. But I suspect this is less common than it is desirable, and so this balancing act is something ongoing for all of us, all the time, unless we hide away and never meet another person. For me claiming and maintaining my self esteem is a challenge I am still working to meet. But thankfully I am beginning to understand that my worth is not measured against another, or by another, and that i am equal to, tho' not the same, as most people I meet. 

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