Tuesday, September 14, 2010

These Reservoirs of Energy and Genius

As William James once wrote, "[m]ost people live in a very restricted circle of their potential being. We all have reservoirs of energy and genius to draw upon of which we do not dream." James is on to something here that those of us who successfully break out of that restricted circle can relate to. Let's face it, most of the time we can never even get close to knowing how we might BEGIN to tap into these reservoirs of potential. Which means we can't even dream about it because it doesn't even show up on our bullshit detectors when trying to self-regulate our ambition.

But then you have this other possibility, right? The one that may differentiate you from the moribund mass (or so you would like to believe). This other possibility is where you actually DO have a sense of your creative potential or even better -- or worse, depending on how you look at it -- your creative potential starts taking on a life of its own and begins dictating to you the new conditions of your daily existence so that you really have no choice but to meta-mediumistically render your image reservoir in perpetual postproduction (what, as a sometimes live A/V performer, I occasionally refer to as my ongoing postproduction sets).

I can hear this dictatorial voice of energetic creative potential speaking to me now:

"You vill now lose yourself in four to eight hours of chemical decomposition a day and ven you avake from your performative stupor there vill be no one there to applaud your amazing, ney, your SUBSTANTIAL fortitude. All you vill see, hear, and feel is this physically exhausted sack of skin drained of its vital force and hope that it vas vorth it."

But it's never worth it, even if, as in my case, you end up releasing some of your more structurally consistent outcomes into the world and the institutionalized jurors and/or corporate media hacks deign it (semi-)successful. How could it be "worth" it? The race to the end of the wire has one guaranteed finish line and that's one line you will eventually cross whether you want to or not. No, it's not ever worth it, but there is a silver lining to this black cloud that hangs over your inevitable demise and do you know what it is? Sustenance. Sustenance, when optimally converted into energy that is then put to use to generate more unconscious creative activity (i.e. deep interior shots), plays havoc with my incorruptible sense of worthlessness. Loser corporate entities often die because of their uncontrollable burn rate, but as an artist-medium creatively losing himself in his ongoing postproduction sets, I'm only as good as my burn rate. If I'm not burning at my optimum rate, then the sense of worthlessness that accompanies all process-oriented works of art can become overwhelming and truly kill whatever potential there may be left to actually dream of.

To dream the actual while achieving ones optimum burn rate is the only way to move beyond "being" per se and this moving beyond "being" per se is the path that can keep you out of the quicksand impropriety of your so-called genius (this is where I part ways with James - it's not our "genius" that we have difficulty dreaming into existence but our optimum state of aesthetic presence-as-process).

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that burning through these immersive processes is the only way OUT and that the real trick is continually connecting with and feeding off of all that sustains you as you reach optimum burn rate. This is another way of saying the creative act demands that the artist-medium intuitively know how to achieve maximum burn rate without succumbing to ultimate burn out.

Sustenance is another way of saying source material. My source material sustains my remixological practice as an ongoing durational achievement that takes place in asynchronous realtime.

To totally remix something David Foster Wallace, a true genius of heartbreaking proportions, says in a Rolling Stone interview of almost 15 years ago and that only recently got published, what's the best case scenario here? You get lucky enough to achieve a modicum of success early on in your creative years so that you can find out EARLY that this fleeting feeling of having successfully "emerged" as an artist in your contemporary moment doesn't really mean JACK SHIT. Right? Which means you get an unexpected EARLY chance to start figuring out what really DOES mean something in this fucked up space-time cavity you keep decaying in (my words, not his). That is to say that at least you now KNOW this decaying process better than you could have ever dreamed of knowing it and can, if you want, start experimenting with what you want to fill this topographically morphing cavity with.

These "reservoirs of energy and genius" James speaks of are really cleverly disguised cauldrons of source material doubling as sustenance to help get through your next postproduction set.

What is currently bubbling at the surface of my cauldron of swirling source material these days?

Blood music sex rhythms, sustainably grown fruits and vegetables being distributed through the locavore foodie scene in the Pacific Northwest, and various process-oriented experiments in multimedia forms of remixology.


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Anonymous Nelson said...

I nodded in agreement through this entire post. I've always been aware of the optimum burn rate and potential burn-out, so much so that I tend to take frequent trips to the metaphoric desert so that the cistern may fill itself again. Recently I've been into reclaiming building materials mixed with experimental design, total customization of living quarters, canning spicy pickles, creating/raising a brood, and a consistent repurposing and rearranging of all existing media.

1:26 PM  

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