This is a guest piece from Douglas Balmain (who has previously contributed a piece). This is slightly leftfield but no less interesting. Check it out – thanks hugely to him for contributing (let me know if anyone else wishes to):
The Task Of The Revolutionist Creator
Combating The Censorship Of Societal and Social Influence
There exist [many] more forces than we can name that actively and constantly work to limit our-selves and our creativity. Most of these forces manifest themselves in our minds as private assessments of approval and acceptance, which we then tie directly to the concept of value: self — and creative — worth.
These forces are pervasive in all that we do — more so than ever since the rise of social media and our shared states of continuous-connectivity. It is an exceedingly rare individual who experiences the sensation of privacy and aloneness — presentness — let alone the state of being uninfluenced. We exist perpetually in a state of remote connectedness. We live in a world of constant, and immediate, judgment.
Social and societal influences don’t merely exert pressures from the periphery of our conscious selves — they’ve been absorbed by our minds and adopted by our beliefs. They dictate who we are, what we do, how we act, dress, speak, and live. They govern what we express and what we withhold — not with an eye for genuine expression, not for the purpose of representing the self as truthfully and transparently as possible — but with an eye for compliance and popular acceptance. Marketing.
We are constantly marketing ourselves while continuously consuming marketed images of those around us.
Each time an app is opened or a feed is refreshed, our minds are exposed to an image and its performance — an instantaneous and publicly displayed calculation of social and popular worth. Only in rare instances is a post objectively inspected for organic worth as it relates to the post’s content. Instead, we automatically — and largely subconsciously — calculate its social value [visits, likes, shares, engagement, etc.] and compare the abstract conglomerate of those scores to our own expressions of our-selves.
How frequently does the mind stutter-step, second-guessing the truth it wishes to express, and replace its impulsive thoughts with something it deems to have more popular potential?
How often do we think, “I really feel like [this], but that might not be understood or accepted — so I’ll change it to [that].”
This practice of serving one’s audience is, of course, acceptable. In fact, this is the process of the most successful and widely consumed works: pop art, pop lit, pop music…keyword: Popular.
The problem arises when the creator takes exception to adhering to popular constructs — when the creator wishes not to serve these forces, but to speak against them. Yet, upon deliberate inspection, the creator will inevitably find that they have — despite themselves — been censoring and molding their art to adhere to the popular, conscious and sub-conscious constraints that have long ago been adopted by their minds.
The person who believes to be operating wholly independently — the person who truly believes they are serving only their own, unadulterated form of expression — is simply ignorant of the forces that are acting on them.
We will not — cannot — achieve total autonomy.
We will not achieve the form of uncorrupted, purely individualistic artistic expression. [I cannot fathom what a work that fits that description might look like, I’m sure it would be fascinating.]
It is only through asking questions of ourselves that we may approach the concept of autonomy. It is by calling out our motivations — by locking eyes with them and asking what they are and where they came from, that we can begin to identify — and neutralize — the guerrilla motivators that have embedded themselves in our minds.
When we feel the pressures in our chests rise, and become aware of our mind’s second-guessing of our creative compulsions, we must stop and deliberately inspect our thoughts and feelings — we must comb our neural pathways for saboteurs:
What am I afraid of? What do I gain by editing/censoring this creative impulse? — who am I serving by taking this action? What are my feelings of apprehension a product of? What are my motivations a product of? What is the message that I truly wish to deliver — how can I deliver that message best? What is my concept of creative worth based off of — what is its measure? By censoring my impulse, I am serving an external influence — what is this influence, what does it serve — do its motivations align with my objective? What are the consequences of thwarting this influence? What is the consequence of adhering to it?
One question naturally — and inevitably — leads to another. While our minds will always remain limited and imperfect, and the answers we give ourselves will remain unavoidably biased, the more we practice the ritual of objective inspection, the more natural it becomes and the easier the influencing forces are to identify. Closer, and ever closer, towards autonomous creation we walk…
It is through this practice of objective, Socratic deconstruction that we begin to rebuild our relationship to the concept of creative worth and empower ourselves to both embrace and reject influences with perspective and understanding. It is through this process that we may train and equip our minds to become effectual revolutionist creators.
It is the unceasing task of the revolutionist creator to abolish, supersede, disarm, call out, and/or otherwise neutralize as many of the censoring traps set and armed by our modern, societal and social constructs as possible. We must work to deconstruct the latticework that has been weaved into our psyches since before we were independently, cognitively capable. We must work to dissolve biases, beliefs, faith, and assumptions.
We must continuously work to locate and undo the constraints of preconceptions — taking time to disassemble each constraint, each motivating-mechanism, and study their working parts. We must inspect their origins and their intended-utility as understood by their creators.
We must strive to identify and understand the forces from without that operate on our minds and deliver our findings to those individuals who also seek autonomy: Liberation.
It is through the deliberate practice of deconstruction that we will both earn and offer the renewed opportunity to claim control of our attentions and energies.
It is the duty of the revolutionist creator to demystify and undermine — through creative works — the subconsciously motivating, psychological subterfuge that has been implemented by our environmental forces to keep us occupied and suppressed.
It is the duty of the revolutionist creator to intellectually disrupt our social and societal institutions — the institutions that have deliberately stolen our abilities to realize individual freedom.
It is the duty of the revolutionist creator to unveil the mechanisms of conquest-and-profit that have made it impossible for even the well-meaning individual to do lasting good.
It is the duty of the revolutionist creator to inspire their audience to ask questions of themselves.
It is the task of the revolutionist creator to expose.
Author, Essayist, Advocate for Non-Human Species, Ex-Recording Artist: http://DouglasBalmain.com