I believe The Creative Underground has our best artistic interests in mind. Even if, for the sake of our artistic growth, they must show a little tough love. Artists often have trouble solidifying an identity. In the search, we can be driven towards extremes in expressing an identity. Subtly, society encourages this extreme. They say, “Is that not the job of the artist; to push the limits of expression, and make even their own life a wild abstract?”
Friends, The Creative Underground rightly cautions us against this extreme. They give us a more radical message. They tell us – Be Boring – This is their letter this week. It washed up at my feet, while I stood on the shore of the river.
09-10-2019_11:41AM_CREATIVE UNDERGROUND (PORTSMOUTH, DIV.) _ARCHIVE_006_BE BORING
DEAR MR. NICK;
The enemy – “The Man” – would have you believe that in order to be a truly great artist, your life itself must become art. But not just any kind of art – They want chaos! – They will tell you that true artists are, “tortured artists.” They will tell you that you must violently disassemble social norms. They would have you resent all ordinary occupations. They would have you live on the very razor edge of the abyss; day drinking, experimenting with drugs, and not showering.
This is an ingenious trick of theirs to make you think you are a true artist. In reality, you are a pawn. By living the life of the tortured artist, you have (literally) painted a target on your back. The Man has the simplest time dismissing you, because that is exactly what he’s supposed to do! You are just playing the part that he has assigned you. Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “The Nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”
In this time of War (the war of your art) we cannot afford wasted energy on eccentricity. Look, we know how it sounds. It sounds like we are saying, “Tone down the expression, fall in line, lose your identity,” but you misunderstand. Do not lose your expression. – aim at it! –
If you want to beat the man at their own game, look like them. Then, when least expect it, make magnificent art. Watch them fall out of their cushy desk chairs! Adopt a position of nuance. Change the culture from the inside of it. Go incognito. This is jungle warfare. Don’t dress yourself in a bright red coat and form a firing line. Use the trees! Are you following? This is how you will beat them; Let your work speak for itself. What’s more lethal in the war of art, than a surprise attack?
In the words of the French novelist Gustave Flaubert, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
With Love, T.C.U.
P.S. BE BORING