Well, Feckin' Duh!

It just occurred to me why I've lost inspiration and passion for my art. It started in the mid-1980s when I started listening to all that New Age weebie-wobie crap about happiness being our birthright as human beings. That may well be for regular people, but the muse never kisses the completed, fulfilled artistic soul. I'm sorry, I didn't make the rules, that's just facts. No wonder the arts are taking a beating. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that almost 85% of Americans believe that they are happy. And that's just sad...

Think about it. Would Picasso have entered his Blue Period if he'd been on Paxil? And what about Vincent van Gogh? If he'd taken Prozac he probably would have been working in the back office of his brother's art gallery instead of spending his afternoons in the sunflower fields of Provence. I could list hundreds, perhaps thousands of examples, but I don't think I need to. You can come up with them yourself.

I confess. Back in the mid-1980s I ingested old-fashioned legal Ecstasy with my friends, not as party fuel, but as a kind of sacrament. It took me through years of therapy in mere hours and helped me come to terms with my abusive childhood, but I now realize that all that contentment came at a great price: my Muse no longer felt needed, so she left. I cast out a powerful force, that is, the impetus behind my art. In a word, I committed artistic suicide by eradicating melancholy from my life.

I'm not talking about clinical depression, mind you, which certainly needs to be treated. I'm talking about that bittersweet, aching sadness that demands artistic expression. If we erase that from our lives nothing needs to be expressed and we become banal, not only as individuals, but as a society. Cubicle fodder. What will finally satisfy us Americans? Money? If so, how much money is enough? How many gadgets do we really need? How many pairs of shoes can we actually wear? How many TVs can we watch? How many pills can we take before we feel robbed of the fullness of life in all its grandeur and messiness? How many surgical procedures will it take before we realize that we're just plain empty and there are no longer ways for us to express our angst, or people who want to hear us? How long can we wear chemical happiness before we discover that it's just a mask that keeps us from necessary introspection and personal growth? In the meantime, those who refuse our Brave New World's happy pills are viewed as suspect, weak and unsuitable for life in mainstream society's ant farm. How long will it be before we fulfill Huxley's prediction? I fear we are dangerously close.

Having come to this Brave New Conclusion, I will no longer assume that happiness is my birthright. Joy, yes, for that's an inner condition not connected with anything external. I will once again look at melancholy as an old friend. I will invite it in and serve it tea, for it has always been my Muse unawares. How dare I expect great inspiration without investing something. Instead of whining when I feel unhappy, I'll recognize it as the seed of creative expression.

You may want to read this article. The author is much more eloquent and informed than I.

"Temenos #8: The Poet" by Jason Hughes