Hope

Leadership concept

It is written, and taught in business school, that hope is not a strategy.  Hope may be in fact a sign of weakness, an indicator of a lack of a plan.  That said, I have hope for creatives.

By creatives, I mean individuals.  Those who seek the +1s and the likes and the thumbs ups and the great job compliments on 500px may strive to be creative, but by choosing to align their work with the lowest, most incredulous viewer, creativity they choose intellectual abandonment.  If you are a creative who lives to post on social media, that is a personal choice, but its level of relevance and importance to your creativity is marginal and transitory.  There is no war between heart and mind, it is all in the mind, the last mark of the individual.  Emotion and logic can live together only in the face of honesty.  

When we create, in what ever means we choose, be it photography, videography, painting, drawing, architecture, literally whatever mode we use, we are committing the ultimate selfish act.  By our culture and teachings, the word selfish, is a bad word, a depiction of evil.  This could not be more untrue.

To be selfish is to be honest with oneself and to be true to reality.  Only a truly selfish artist will be successful.  Was Mozart a selfish man?  Yes he was.  He would not change to suit the whims of others.  Was Picasso selfish.  Yes.  Was Vincent Van Gogh selfish?  He was, to the point where his greatness was not recognized in his own lifetime, yet he did not compromise to paint that which was "accepted".  He stood his ground.  He lived in poverty.  He knew no public success.  He was no hero for living in poverty, he was a hero for standing by his own goals, and his own judgement.

A very old, distant friend once wrote "live for yourself, there's no one else, more worth living for".  In his later life he has lost his faith in self, but in his youth, he was one of the most articulate poets of our generation, a generation that found its poetry in music.  He was not wrong then and is not wrong now.  If you, as a creative, focus on work that pleases yourself first, then you are an honest person.  If you focus on work that you hate, or worse, are indifferent about, for the pleasure of the unthinking masses, then you have committed the worst of what the religious call sin.

My hope is that as creatives, we can all stop caring about the opinions of others.  I hope that we can choose to exit the Orwellian and highly filtered world of social media.  Social media is meaningless.  The algorithms are designed to show you only what you want to see and only to reinforce what the operators want you to see.  Journalism, in the classic terminology, is dead.  Either those who were capable journalists have been fired, or encouraged to take retirement, leaving only those who follow instructions, who are trained to place sufficient spin on stories such that they may self levitate will remain.  We are surrounded by bullshit, and consume it readily as if it were manna.  It is not.  Shit remains shit, no matter how one spices it.

Make photos of your kids.  Take videos of your family.  Make a pen and ink drawing of your parent.  Do something that actually matters to you.  Running about trying to copy the work of others, or to fit the theme of the day, or to be able to show your work to people incapable of appreciating it are not only wastes of your time, they are acts of lying to yourself.  Stop lying.  Start seeing.  If you make a work of creativity and no one else sees it, or no one else likes it, is immaterial if you get something from it.  What you get may be a conclusion that you have not succeeded, and need to try again.  Inspiration is one thing, attempting to copy is another.  Be inspired but don't be a Xerox machine.  Filters, textures, presets and the rest of the myriad crap on the internet does not make you an artist when you apply it.  It is no more than placing a sticker of some store on your window, of buying a product to display its brand so others will be impressed or any other action that affirms you are less individual and more part of the collective.  A community does nothing to foster individual creativity.

Collectives do not innovate.  Committees do not create.  Social groups do not affect positive change.  They are all about the minimum.  Do the least possible whilst making the most noise.  Hardly a recipe for growth and advancement..

Great photographs have been made by people like Vivianne Maier, an individual whose work was seen by no one, until long after she passed.  Henri Cartier-Bresson never cared a whit whether anyone liked his work.  Robert Capa did not risk his life as a war photographer to please you or anyone else.   It is easy today to criticize both George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg, but let us not forget that our western culture was dramatically influenced by early work from them that started as independent film.   Most of the interesting work in film today is done by independents, without giant studios and product placement and sequel foreshadowing.  

I hope that some of you understand and take this to heart.  I hope that you find joy and opportunity in all that you create.  I hope that for the sake of your sanity and your being that you get off social media and instead live for yourself.  Some will, some will run screaming that I am evil.  I might actually be evil for some.  I am not religious but I have read many holy texts.  Most define evil as that which chooses free will.  If that is evil, then so be it.  Go create something for no one's joy but your own.  If you do, you may be surprised to learn, that such art is the only kind that sustains.

I write this on Christmas Day, 2016.  I am an atheist, but believe fully in the message "good will unto others"  I don't need a church for that.  For those that have faith, if it helps you, good for you.  I write this in thanks to heroes and would have been friends.

Thank you Carl.  Thank you Albert.  Thank you Alfred.  Thank you Nicola.  And thank you Ayn.  I miss you all terribly.