This is a message to you artists struggling in the Trump age to survive spiritually and materially and to maintain that elusive vertical tension that literally gets you out of bed each day so you can continue down the difficult path you’ve chosen. This is not a call to political activism; I’ll leave it to others to articulate that. It’s a pep talk for your soul. This is a call for metaphysical renewal for those of you walking the tightrope between the wasteland of mainstream American culture and a personal vision of a life of creative fulfillment, self-respect and a social sphere free from oppression.
Why do you persist on your difficult path? Because you want to change the world you live in? Sun Tzu says the most challenging opponent to overcome is the environment, whether it be geographic, social or ideological. The environment wins by persisting in the illusion that it is as eternal as the mountains and the sea. Against such subtly interconnected opposition, what can the individual do?
Yet you persist because you have a god-like belief in the moral and psychological rightness of your choice and you hope others will take up your call. Every gesture you make, every mark you make, every canvas you paint, every object you design, every word you write, every written or unwritten law you transgress in the name of a higher value consciously connects you with a long lineage of artists, writers, thinkers, leaders and saints who’ve gone before you and with whom you strongly identify.
For a long time you’ve had the intuition your artistic ancestors chose you – not vice versa. Somehow, you’re left with a feeling of obligation for their fateful choices. They passed their transmission on to you, which is now yours to nurture and develop for future generations. You are the possessor of their message and you want to get it out. But in order to get it out effectively you have to learn how to blow yourself up. You have to become human dynamite. Is this an argument for artistic ego or is it a recognition that life expands outwards and upwards? The vertical tension in your life must come from within, from under the floorboards. The units of life force you generate through your own body or by proxy will determine the trajectory of your life as well as your metaphysical and artistic brand.
What message will come out? What are you pointing to? Is it a universal message or a message for those who have the ears to hear and the eyes to see? Is it soothing or does it come with a stinger? For you there is no God, there is no final truth, and there is only the endless day-to-day struggle to live your life with the exactitude and precision of your moral and aesthetic beliefs. And to measure up to the ancestors who chose you because they thought you were worthy of the gravity and seriousness of their ideas.
Your body will age and die but your message will live on. It will survive you. Its body is networked across the span of many human lifetimes. Pass it on.