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  • Dan Bishop

Can Artists Be Human?

It feels weird to think about, and seems like a stretch at first, but I'm going to try and flesh out the idea that those who make great art are doing so in direct response to being denied their humanity in some way. They are creating out of necessity to try and reclaim their humanity. To me, art is like jazz; it's a feeling, a mindset that can be connected to concrete products, but some potency is lost along the way. It is the energy catalyzing the end result that is the art itself. Everything outside of a persons greatest pieces is just marketing, pure, simple, marketing. It may be attractive, but I would argue that it is far from art. And well, we've seen what happens when people become artists by trade. I shouldn't have to reiterate how miserable and violent and isolated the life of every great artist is. And to look into how their lives ended is enough to make a person think that artists themselves are purely toxic entities, sewing seeds of chaos and pain wherever they go. The most potent art is created in somewhat of a dream state. The human behind it is just a vessel at that point, so much so that the artist themselves may not even feel entitled to take credit for what was produced. They were simply a tool for the universe. I know this sounds pretty lofty and farfetched but trust me when I say I've been thinking about this for a while. Try to keep this idea in mind the next time you read an autobiography or watch an interview, or even pick out some lyrics from your favorite song.

I see art as the end product of a necessary expulsion of toxicity. It is the first step in the healing process, acceptance. "I feel this, I saw that, I hurt here." We have to acknowledge the reality of pain to maintain our sanity. We have to hold on to the idea that, at some point, hope can take us to something different. But what happens when a person becomes obligated to stay in that place? What happens when someone fighting to escape the worst stage of their life ends up contributing to the creation of something brilliant and becomes tasked with doing it over and over again? The way I see it, they then have two directions to go in; continuously allow themselves to remain immersed in toxicity, stepping out of it just long enough to create something, or stop making art altogether. They can either retire, or take up a different trade. In the latter case, the other trade seems often to be some kind of marketing integrated with product design, but on the surface, they're still called artists. I think that what most modern artists really are is stimulators. They are paid to stimulate, like a prostitute. Then their employer can swoop in and take what's left in your wallet. Now I am not knocking anyone here. We do what we must to survive. I just think that to devote one's life to the making of great art is perhaps the most direct route to misery and an untimely death that a once brilliant person could aim for. And I argue that that kind of self-sabotage is the very antithesis of self-love. It is dehumanizing. So the next time you ask yourself, "Why is all this so-called art such shit?" I hope you can reframe that thought to be something closer to, "Look at this person subverting a perverse system to fiercely preserve their humanity. You go, girl." Anything that costs money is simply a means to an end for someone else, and nothing more. Please don't aspire to be an artist, aspire to be human.

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