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Forum nameOkay Activist Archives
Topic subjectRE: Goals
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=24394&mesg_id=24407
24407, RE: Goals
Posted by bshelly, Fri May-05-00 08:55 PM
Great post, Ang. Great thoughts, people.

Hmm. Goal setting. What to do. All stuff that's been on my mind lately. See, lately I've been pulled in two very different directions. On one hand, I have a continued desire to do something for other people. It's always been on my mind, and it's ostensibly why I'm in graduate school. Put bluntly, I want the sins of my ancestors to end right fucking now, and I want to do things that are going to work to reverse that direction. All this talk about revolution of the mind is part of it (but it's also a cop-out, people), but I want the whole damn package. And if I can't have it, I want to spend my life working for it.

The second urge, having recently flared up after about two years of being dormant, is the creative urge. It's a great, great thing--I'm inspired to write again. I don't know why it left me, I don't know why it's coming back now--probably has something to do with joining the band and being around people again who take this seriously. Honestly, if you're going to push me on a short-term goal, nurturing this side is it. This summer is when I finally finish my first short story in a long time and when I'll be hunched over a guitar the rest of the time.

The long-term question is very difficult for me right now, in light of the two goals I specified above. I want to help the world, and/but I want to create. As we all know, no man can serve two masters. Are the two goals mutually exclusive? Of course not, not in theory, but in my case they may be closer to exclusive than complimenary. The question that haunts me at night: what fucking social good can a white artist do at this point? what meaningful changes can they make in society? The ones who've tried look ridiculous, and I don't even know that the audience I want to reach could be moved by my art. There's also the chance that being immersed in my art could cause me to unlearn whatever minimal progress I've made in not being a suburban white fuck.

I want to help bridge this gap between rich and poor, minority and white, but whatever "fresh" insights I have stem from a very basic point: society needs to listen to the people we're trying to help, give them the resources to do it, and not send in some Ivy League white guy to fix the problem (insert self-depreciation here). What kind of art can speak to that? Is it better to be part of that "resource" end of the equation? Should I be less ambitious and settle for that role, or am I arrogant enough to think that I can make art that really inspires people towards that vision?

Here's the rub. Can art really influence what happens to the less fortunate? I think so. Could mine? Maybe, but I'm not sure I want to find out. I'm very scared of giving myself over entirely to the creative process. Real creation, the kind that does change people's minds, shit like Nietzsche or Langston Hughes, that shit requires suffering upon suffering. Night after night after night of the kind of mental anguish that drives 99.4 percent of the population loony as a bat. Do I want to take that chance with my life? What if I succeed? What if I fail? I may not fulfill whatever potential I have by working in a strict advocacy or social service role, but I may sleep soundly at night. Going for the creative route is like putting the mortgage on the table--it's all or nothing. At worst, I could end up broke, alone, insane, and thoroughly average in the quality of my writings. At worst on the advocacy route, I end up in the suburbs.

Wow, weren't especting that, were you? Always dangerous to ask me to ruminate on the long-term. :-) If you've made it this far, I'm not sure why, but I'm glad you did. As it relates to the question at hand, I guess what I need to do is pick a direction--to create, or to immerse myself directly in the everyday life of the people that, ultimately one way or another, it's my highest goal to help. Please, tell me what I should do--obviously I'm neurotic and incapable of making strong decisions.

Arm, leg, leg, arm, head.

Hite 9: I thought I told you that we won't stop.

John's Boardwalk, NE Philly
Wednesday, May 17

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