Friday, April 01, 2016

Pretending

I was a serious teenager. My Art teacher pushed me hard to let go. To be less academic about my creativity. On one occasion, he 'accidentally' bumped some shoe polish onto one of my paintings to get me to relax. Telling someone to relax is normally only productive when they are already relaxing. I was a tightly wound spring. I found the feedback insanely frustrating, but slowly pushed myself to partition my thinking world and my art world. Art became a release for me. A place where I could put any angst thoughts aside and just paint. From inside.

Self-Portrait at age 15 (1995) and then at age 20 (2000)

Later at university I went to a hypnotist show. I was very disappointed that I couldn't participate. I had to watch my friend act as superman and rescue a girl in the crowd I had had my eye on. I wanted to be that superman. I wanted to rescue that girl. But when I went up with the volunteers to get hypnotised, and went through the process of relaxation, we were told, 'you are now completely relaxed, you can't lift your hand'. So I tried to lift my hand. I could. So disappointed, I stood up and walked off stage. And sat having jealous thoughts about the man of steel.

I learnt enough about myself over the years that I was preset to try lift my hand. Not just to accept that I couldn't. Not just to follow things. Even if I really wanted to. I am a complete show off. I also hate faking. You can see the conflict. Acting is faking. In method acting, the actors have to lean into the role completely. Become the character. Even though it is not really true.

After reading more about hypnotism, relaxation and tricks of the mind... my Art and then Yoga became areas where I let go. I stopped trying to plan everything, know where I was going, or believe in advance that I know what my restrictions are.

I will always be the doubter. I will always look for consistency in beliefs. I will always believe in Karl Popper's scientific definition that something is only 'scientifically interesting' if it can be stated in a way that can be disproved. I will always try lift the hand.


But... not all the time. Sometimes there is value in leaning into the story. Beauty has no requirement that it should be disproved. We can suspend disbelief. Put aside ideas of consistency, logic, rationality, progress, proof and fact. Not because they aren't true. 

But because life tastes better if we sometimes pretend.
2014 Abstract

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