Author: stuarth92

More Than Our Jobs

“Even if work is pleasant, it will still usually confine us to a prescribed and delimited role within the economic system, silencing those parts of ourselves that do not serve our allotted position in the capitalist process of production. The term role itself, ‘borrowed from the domain of the theatre, suggests that the existence foisted upon people by society is identical neither with people as they are in themselves nor with all that they could be’ (Adorno, 2001: 187)”

David Frayne, The Refusal of Work, p.65

He Who Fights …

“He who fights, can lose. He who doesn’t fight, has already lost.”

Bertolt Brecht

The Great Enemy of Freedom

“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.

In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers.

Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make[.]

The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”

Wendell Berry, The Art of The Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

The Right Sensation

Wallace Stevens

“Pleasure is the pleasure of the powers that create a truth that cannot be arrived at by reason alone, a truth that the poet recognizes by sensation. The morality of the poet’s radiant and productive atmosphere is the morality of the right sensation.”

Wallace Stevens

The Business of Caring (Through Sport Fandom)

Writer Roger Angell, (AP Photo/The New Yorker)

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look – I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring – caring deeply and passionately, really caring – which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté – the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball – seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

Roger Angell

In Defiance of All That Is Bad

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Creative Discomfort

“[…] in your life, if you’re a good artist, you have one good idea. But if you’re a genius, you maybe have two good ideas.”

Marina Abramović (quoting her professor of art history), quoted in Mason Curry’s Subtle Manouvers newsletter (11.07.22)

“[…] part of the solution is not being so precious about ideas and accepting that they’re just a starting point. The other part—maybe the bigger part—is learning to tolerate discomfort. Is that, in fact, the most important skill for any writer? (Or visual artist or musician or fill-in-the-blank creative person?) It might be. Because so much of the process is just really, really uncomfortable. It requires butting up against your own shortcomings over and over and over.”

Mason Curry, Subtle Manouvers newsletter (11.07.22)

Getting Stuck: It’s Not About What It’s About

“I am fond of saying of psychological dilemmas, “it is not about what it is about.” Why do we get stuck? How can it be that we so easily identify such marshy zones in our lives? We typically fault ourselves for lacking sufficient will power to get unstuck. But if we have sufficient will, what is the problem? The idea that stuckness is really about something else suggests that we have to ask what deep, deep anxiety or threat will arise from our getting unstuck. If we are ever to get unstuck, we have to ferret out what archaic anxiety we will have to take on to move forward. For example, is the deeply buried anxiety the fear of being alone, forsaken by others, or is it the fear of some potential conflict with others? Either has the power to shut down intentionality and resolve.”

James Hollis

Growing into Yourself as an Artist

Painter David Hockney (Photograph: David Parry/National Portrait Gallery/PA)

“Just work hard, and you will evolve into yourself naturally. Don’t choose who to be—grow into yourself through hard work. All will be revealed. I guarantee that if you paint a still life, it will have your personality in it. You have to trust that. The best things I saw by you today were your self-portrait drawings, because they had no artifice. . . . If I was you, I would strip away all your flashy gimmicks and dare to make “plain” paintings. You will be original, you have to take it on faith. You know what to do. You’ll get where you need to go with time and hard work.”

David Hockney to artist Duncan Hannah (quoted in Mason Currey’s newsletter Subtle Manueuvers, issue ‘Seven Lessons in Being an Artist from Duncan Hannah’)

Abandon Hope

When I think of writing for this blog I sense a hesitation to share, not out of fear, but stinginess. It’s disheartening to dedicate time and hope into a post about something that fascinates or concerns me only for the metrics to show that hardly anyone has read or responded to it. Is there anything worse to a writer? A proximate cause for those paltry view counts could be that I haven’t optimized my writing for search engines (SEO) so most people can’t find the post in the first place. But, what could be the root cause of my stinginess?  

When questioned on his (ugh) ‘method’ David Sedaris advised fellow writers to keep a diary, carry a journal and, most importantly, abandon hope. Why abandon hope? I notice that when hope goes unfulfilled it can morph into its opposite (or one of its many opposites) and begin to thwart the very thing once hoped for. My hope for praise, for thousands of views and hundreds of comments, turned against me. Why bother making the effort only to get silence in return? What else should I write for? That’s for me, and us, to find out.