The Artist's Dilemma

Everyone seems to wonder why artists of all types always seem to be a little bit out there, a little bit crazy or a little bit beyond the fringe of society. Artists, writers and musicians have a long track record of mental disease, drug/alcohol abuse and other self-destructive behavior. No matter how magnificent or profound their works seem to be, artists themselves seemed to be doomed to lives of misery, insanity and slow destruction.

But why is this? Why is it that the creative souls of our planet, the very people who carry forth the message of humanity, the bearers of ultimate truth, always seem trapped and tormented by forces within themselves. Why is it that they seem to suffer the most of all?

The reason is all-too simple. Artists have always seen the world in a different way from the rest of humanity. Rather than limit themselves to a simple notion of truth, artists, by their very nature, have to open themselves up and see the world as it truly is, including all of the misery, hatred and hypocrisy that the modern world seems to need in order to survive.

It's enough to drive anyone to the brink of madness and that's why, from day one, we're trained by both parents and schools to narrow our focus and see the world in black and white, without the complexities and overlapping ideals that surround us everywhere we go. Though it may be a very simple way of seeing the universe, it's probably for our own good. After all, history has shown, often in graphic detail, what happens to those who venture to expose themselves to the world as it truly is.

But while taking in the whole truth may be like staring at Zeus' natural self, a sort of suicide by knowledge, it's something that artists of all varieties have done for thousands of years and continue to do today. I myself face this dilemma today, torn between preserving my sanity and my happiness and opening myself to the world around me.

My only hope, perhaps my only prayer, is to strike some kind of balance between the two forces and discover a way to see what is profound, to see what is true and still avoid destroying myself, literally eating myself alive.

Now I don't claim to be a perfect human being, nor do I claim to have an answer to this dilemma, but I know deep down that if I don't find a solution, at least one that works for myself. I'm doomed either to a life of mediocrity, or to a life of misery and when I'm confronted with a decision like that, I begin to understand the artists and writers who have fallen before me. I can see why they chose to eat themselves alive with drugs and depression. It was their only choice.

After all, their only other option was to stand by and let the world do it for them. It's quite possible a lot of artists, much like falling on their swords, decided to die by their own hand rather than letting themselves fall into the arms of an impossibly cruel enemy. An enemy that the artists, through their vision, know all too well…

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13 Responses to The Artist's Dilemma

  1. suicidalblckbird says:

    i feel this is the most truthful rant I have read, yet then again I havent read them all. thank you for enlightening the mind and intriguing the soul.

  2. Vaerlina says:

    An artist can be like a warrior, forcing those around them to look at life in a different and all together interesting way. I liked it when you compared an artist to a warrior impaling themselves upon their swords. One can only guess at the thoughts and ideas that flowed through the great artists' heads before they died. I imagine some of their ideas became profound truths. continue to rant.

  3. sherry says:

    very interesting. Actually, I'm an artist, i guess as i would call myself that. I feel what you are saying. Somehow, the world seems just as beautiful as it is ugly. It's the balance, even the ugliness that fascinates me. Artists don't have to be depressed if they accept even the ugliness and sorrows in society as another face of beauty, just a hard one to see. 😉

  4. Ka says:

    You really do have beautiful words. Whatever you do, don't just try to ignore it.
    I did that. Bad, bad idea. It's one of those things that's harder to turn back on than off, once you've gotten really good at playing, "La laaa laaa laa, I can't hear you!" with the gods, and stop returning their phone calls and the like.
    "Real writers" shouldn't fall into shadow like that. Leave that to the cranky paranoid mages. *g*
    But, um, yeah. Sometimes a step back can be helpful, remembering that people do still dream, that your words can give people hope, if not to change the world then to at least change _their_ world. Sometimes it helps to just say, "Hell with it, I need a nap." At least that's what they taught me at burned out activist school.

  5. Valerie says:

    I enjoy reading your work.

    Perhaps the madness you speak of is how we react to "what we are told" versus "What we see" as artists. What makes our works into "art". An internal conflict that our wonderful subconsious mind plays with us.

    In a way, the world forces their ways onto us, but ravishes in our methods of breaking free of their reignes.

    Then again, we always second guess what we say, don't we? one statement turns into a million questions. I guess the beauty of having a overactive mind, is constantly striving for the one statement that won't break into a multitude of questions.

    Will we ever find it? Or will we fall victim to the subconsious mind once more?

    This insanity is a blessing.

  6. another lunatic says:

    The answer is simply this, just be. I face this problem every moment of the day, there aren't enough stars in the sky to show you what i mean. but I do know this, detachment is the only way i've survived. I've had to accept that i cannot care for others and see the way they see. the idea is to find those who are not neccessarily artists, whom can somtimes be shallow, But in a creator. Someone who comprehends the way they see life, and absorbs all of that life around them. the depression and the drugs are all passing amusments, so to speak. they take up the time we have left over from when we are too tired to go on. Eventually all find a way out. Be it death or art, even the drones understand that. You are a beautiful writer, and ingenious to put it to words in the way you did. I never found the right way to express that, but its somthing that has always lingered. And i know my answer is only temporary and all artist will fall again. But the truth is that there is no artist without pain, and the drugs, they bring you to the subconcious level that is much better to live in. Those other people are shallow and don't comprehend, they are the ones who live "happily". Truth be told, the subconcious is much clearer and a much better place to live.

  7. Prince says:

    Very inspiring.
    I have been going through the same dilemmas and cofusions myself, when I found out recently that it's part of being an artist, is to love and suffer.
    If you lookup the meaning of word "passion", it will give you two basic definitions, equally true: LOVE and SUFFERING.

  8. Raven Nocturne says:

    I am an artist and my chosen craft is writing. I see th world in a far different matter than so many people around me, and I share alot of your views. I will admit, I do suffer from a kind of madness but I think my writing ability stems from it. I was blessed from birth to have an unusually perceptive intellingence and I think I'm one of those people that others don't quite know what to make. And I'd like it that way. As the great writer E.A. Poe once said:
    "I do not suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it." Words to live by.

  9. Celia says:

    I, too, am a artist. I write. I can totally connect to what you're saying. I think that what gives artist all their problems is the fact that we have found one truth or another and we've found that every truth leads to quetions that have a horrable habit of not haveing any awnsers. So we sepnd our lifes looking for anwsers and have a bad habit of tearing ourselves apart in the process. Anyway, thanks for this new perspective on it. Great work!
    ~celia

  10. Elysian Dreamer says:

    I feel that perception of the world is only one part of the equation. By means of drugs or mental illness, one may be less inhibited in his or her thinking. I have recently found that when I have allowed myself to be a little more inhibited with my thinking that I have far deeper contemplations than I am usualy enabled. I think that we humans box our selfs into certain thinking patterns. Sometimes we have to step outiside ourselvs to find deeper realizations.

  11. Sylynse says:

    I am well into what we know as the self distructive phase of my life.
    I am all in agreement on finding what balnce can be achieved , however I face the same as the rest of us underground unnoticed writters face.
    It is in every one of us human or not that we face what the problem of each day is at hand and we learned to box ourselves in.
    I for one always try to find a way to conceal my true identity for not only my safety but for my mothers and my brother best interest at heart as well.
    I never read any of the workings in which Raven has completed.
    However my heart goes out to those of the not like most crowds.
    We are a few to one in every american town.
    Viewing the world and try to warn those we care for about the consequences of those choices that are made.
    I have faced death in person,I know much of what it is like to never be able to achieve the daily obligations of existences and the rewards there in.
    So to all of those who feel the same e mail me at yahoo and at vampire freaks web site the name of myself in hidden blog formats are the same as on yahoo and of the other site.
    So write call, e mail snail mail I feel allot the same as every one here does as well.
    Until the choice arrises I will say thank you and may we all conquer our demons within.
    Sylynse

  12. Virginia says:

    You are so controlled, so verbally reasonable…I envy you. I am an artist and the lack of feeling understood makes me , like Hafiz, sometimes feeling like running thru the streeets screaming, throwing rocks through windows, using my head to ring great bells, pulling my hair, tying everything I own to a stick. However Hafiz saw this maddness the joy of seeing God everywhere. I don't yet.

  13. April says:

    Heh. Given the choice between misery and knowledge, I know I'd pick knowledge every time. You're right, in the end, it seems inevitable I will destroy myself in the process, but hey, if anyone else can get why I'm doing it, that's enough for me. That's why I'm doing it. For them. For me.

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