Saturday, 19 August 2017

What is a blog for ? It's hard to judge how much personal life it is appropriate to show in a space where anyone, should they so wish, can see it. And very, very few people are so socially isolated that their lives do not affect others. 
Fore-warned this may be a long ramble, I am thinking about identity. Show me the artist that doesn't come to this at some point in their career. So I'm thinking about how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves. And the space, if there is one, between those two points of perception. And how difficult it is to control the way we are perceived by others. And how we are shaped as children, and from there through out life by our experiences.
A lot of my work stems from feeling. I think it was Maya Angelou who said something along the lines of you never forget how somebody made you feel, you might forget the words and deeds, but not the feeling. I'm inclined to agree. And here-in maybe lies the essence of a being. 
I'm going to skip about here because that's the way my mind works. Those who are not in touch with their feelings or who would rather be unfeeling in order to block out unpleasant feelings are given to suppressing feeling in others. They are quite often people who will talk in a derogatory way about those they deem over-sensitive. But then those who are very sensitive can be so sensitive that their call for sensitivity also suppresses feeling in others. 
It's a fine line and there is a balance that needs to be struck, but that balance is not a command and control balance, that kind of stability is about domination rather than dialogue, the balance is when both parties are able to meet as equals, when no one voice, no one's needs over-rides another's. But how do we measure, how do we gauge, equity.
One of the ways that we find a small space balance in our everyday lives is to mix with people who are of similar mind, body, being, to us. They mirror, and present no deep challenge. It's about finding birds whose feathers and calls are like enough to your own that they feel like kin. 
Ideally you'll grow up in a family that feels like kin. Ideally that family will develop your sense of self worth so that you have no need to belittle either yourself or others. I don't know how common that is. I grew up in a family where I felt like a misfit, it was hard to get things right and is likely the root cause of my self-doubt and misfit complex. I'll get back to that as doubt and that feeling of not fitting is one facet of my identity.  In times gone by it was very uncomfortable, now it is less so, in some ways mis-fitting now is a license not to conform. I am more likely to say "f*** it, they hate me anyway, what does it matter" whereas previously I might have been cowed or my fights would flare, but then die back, weakened by a desperation to be liked and anxiety and fear of abandonment.
But to get back to feelings. I'm currently working on a body of pieces that is drawn from the sludge. The piece titled "Shirley Boyle" in a previous blog was the first to be born from this mire. It's not pretty feelings I'm dealing with. It's, as I say, the sludge, the dark matter; envy, vengeance, jealousy, social isolation, grudge, shame, cowardice, pride the list goes on and probably the prettiest emotions in there are sadness and anger so it's not comfortable space to be occupying. 
But these horrible feelings are shadows that lurk in all of us to a greater or lesser extent, in different measures. There are some sunny personalities who may be less subject to nastiness but those sunshine souls are not common. Oddly when  that which is nasty is  not acknowledged it gains more hold, more leverage, becomes more obvious and requires more effort to cover. And in covering we reduce our ability to experience the counter side, that which is light and free, and also our ability to break away from our demons. It may be possible to maintain superficial appearances but the need to stay superficial becomes a demon itself for it binds us to shallow gratification and a rotten-ness of soul becomes normal, an acceptance of imbalance that is selfishly shifted towards ourselves.
And I think it's easy to find oneself either in a soup of complacent self satisfaction (see David Cameron) or trapped in loveless relationships that only function on a superficial level.
Actually those shallow relationships have a place in all our lives, the capacity to get on relies on us accepting each other on a superficial level, being genuinely decent and polite. But it doesn't seem like quite enough to sustain a marriage for instance, the need to maintain an appearance of shine at the expense of the inner light drives me crazy, makes me feel like a caged thing. That's another part of my identity perhaps, a need not to be confined. 
So I don't fit and I hate cages. And yet, on lots of levels, I do play the game. Because there are people I deeply care for, and for whom I will subjugate my needs because their needs over-ride my needs. Now the trick with this is to make sure that fair play is being done. It cannot be right for only one party to be doing the giving. And whilst this can be seen close to in relationships, it is also the case that some nations, or groups within nations are taking, or giving, too much 
This giving and taking balance and the need for honesty and integrity beg us to ask am I really getting this right ? Am I really getting this right ? I ask that twice because it's easy to say yes when asked only once, easy to push away doubt, or easy-ish to push away doubt Am I really getting this right ?
This is, in a way, where that which challenges us is often a great opportunity. That which, and those who. Those who challenge us, who are not our flock, whatever our comfort zone is, offer us opportunity to witness another way of life. You can travel a long way to do this, I haven't, but maybe I'd like to some time. Or you can do it with those close by. It could be in-laws, ex's, ex's ex's, workmates, bosses, neighbours, someone who rubs you up a little wrong, or someone who rubs you up a lot wrong. 
Generally the challenge stems from a mis-meeting of manners, mannerisms, and communication style, the superficialities, the delicate structures we have built around ourselves that help us to feel strong and stable. It is politics whether it's negotiating between children, adults, communities or nations, and the ability to recognise another's right to be, to exist, is the starting point. Weirdly that right is often overlooked and so the seed of goodwill is disregarded before negotiations begin.  
I think I may have slipped into brain waffle now, and that which challenges us and how we meet those challenges is a story with a different set of keys to identity so I'll save that for another day. Also this blog has stretched out much longer than I anticipated so I'll close for now and continue further down the line when my thoughts are more clear.

Mmm, post script - as regards how much feeling I put into my blog, how much of my personal life I expose, I think I came to the conclusion a few years ago that as much of my work stems from feeling, or feelings, if I am explaining the thought behind what I am doing I am pretty much bound to lay bare those feelings. Those for whom it is too much I assume will look away. 

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