The photo above is a passage from Sanction, the prescient, phenomenal masterwork of Roman McClay, & currently in the running to become the third book I read continuously. It is a tale of an entirely possible near future where new technologies have brought even more information to the minds of Humans, with people now literally carrying the Internet, & thus the sum of Human Knowledge, around in their heads. Basically, a more advanced version of the society we’re currently living in, with more advanced problems & more advanced beta morons.
Sanction is the sort of thing you can’t tell people about. They have to experience it for themselves. So many disparate elements went into making the backdrop of the story, that many fans keep notebooks just to track the references that catch their attention. A truly powerful synthesis is one that can inspire creativity & further synthesis in others. Below are some thoughts inspired by Sanction.
Artists aren’t special. They’re common, to the point of laughability. Many people pose as artists, using the title, “artist”, to adorn their lives like so much garnish. Again, laughable. Is it not easier, simpler, in some sense cleaner, to just create or produce something that you want to see in the World? I’ve never really understood the urge to pose as an artist when there is no real barrier to entry on simply being an artist. As a former teacher of mine said, “Even shitty drawings are still art, because a person brought that forth from their own mind & produced it by their own hand.” If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, the status-title “artist” is almost an automatic attainment for all living humans, as even our “inferior” cousins, the apes, are capable of expressing themselves in this manner.
On a more ambitious level, to truly be worthy of the name, a person should conduct their life with a certain degree of coordination & planning. Not in a contrived or mechanistic sense. No, in a more… musical sense. Measure, rhthym, theme, timing; recursive progression, variation, elaboration, & most of all experimentation. To me, these are the requirements one must have to be owed the title “Artist”.
As you may have noticed, my own life is built entirely around the relentless pursuit & cultivation of the Martial Arts. Under a conventional understanding of “artist”, I produce little to no work & provide little to no instruction to the younger generation of artists. It would seem that I’m disqualified, even though my defining obsession has the word “Art” IN its name. But, because my study & practice is rooted in a never ending cycle of cultivation-experimentation-expression, I am still worthy on some level, at least.
Because my Life is my Art, in a literal sense, I am still worthy.
When most people talk about talent, they mean something only they can do. The problem here is the depressingly small number of cases where the speaker actually means “something only they can do”. More often than not, people mean a standard set of expressive pursuits that have been sanctioned (heh) by their particular Society.
The ancient Chinese had their poetry, painting, & academic pursuits. We modern Americans have our music, athletics, or commercialized “hobbies”.
I hate such things, if only because they are officially approved & encouraged.
On the surface there is nothing “wrong” with such activities & pursuits. In truth, there is nothing wrong with them. My disapproval & opposition is to the “official” status dispensed by would-be elites in our, or any, society. Not only does it give cramped, disgusting maggots undue power over others; it inadvertently denies or intentionally invalidates an enormous range of natural tendencies.
I, myself, have always been quick to learn & develop physical skills. I was drawn to the Martial Arts at a very young age. But, because the brittle milquetoasts of my once glorious home city fear the possibility of physical consequences for their words & actions, I was criticized for being “too aggressive” or “intimidating”. Luckily for me, my strong independent streak compelled me to actively pursue unique expressions of the Skills fostered by my chosen Martial Art.
I find it unacceptable that many young people are not so lucky.
Becoming More Than You Are
Potential is a hell of a thing.
The amount of potential that’s wasted every moment is unfathomable. Personally, wasting one’s potential is one of the very few unforgivable acts an individual can commit. Why?
I believe we are all obligated to grow & evolve. Life varies & iterates without end. Each individual ceaselessly pursuing to maximize the return on any & all opportunities seized. By progressing through the life cycle of its kind, all things become more than they are, more than they have been, at any given moment in time.
If Humans are truly “higher order” beings than other animals, than plants, than microbes & viruses, are we not obligated to a more deliberate pursuit of such a course of development?
If we are “created in the image of God”, are we not honor bound to become more than we are, both individually & collectively?
Oh, my many Brothers & Sisters, I beg of you: What will you become?
Spontaneity is both of the extreme ends of a spectrum, simultaneously. The polarity of experience most people have with Spontaneity is one characterized by a flickering of presence & absence. The ratios of “how long it sticks” being the primary difference.
Creativity is spoken of as if it were a fickle & self-important woman. I find that telling, to say the least, on a number of levels.
It seems to me that creativity is the birthright of all Humans. It is our micro expression of the macro “Creatio ex nihilo” the brought forth the Universe. To put it another way: God creates Things out of Nothingness; Humans create mental forms & reshape the World to provide the physical form.
Our natural, creative impulses have been hampered in large part by the dehumanizing aspects of standardized public education. By training children to be “Citizens” we have unwittingly robbed them of their inheritance as Humans.
As it says in the Zhuangzi, we have to a certain extent allowed children to mutilated, Mentally & Spiritually, in order to produce more grist for the mill that is Society. Though circumstance has denied me the honor of parenthood, even I can see that we owe those who follow after us a better World than this.
Self-Cultivation For its Own Sake
The necessity of deliberate self-cultivation to achieve inborn potential is an old idea. Much older than recorded history. Much, much older than the stunted, pseudo-intellectuals of modern Academia can tolerate. It seems to be an inborn drive, at least for us men.
I truly believe all humans are obligated to become more than they are, in order to enrich both their personal life & the Human species as a whole. I truly believe that the pursuit of even a single skill can be a means to this sort of Self-Cultivation.
It is never too late to start. And I, at least, will always believe in you, even the one’s I hate.
鳶が鷹を産む。 (Tobi ga taka wo umu) Literally: A kite breeding a hawk.
Meaning: A splendid child born from common parents.
There are many people who lack sufficient experience to be interesting. This is to be expected under certain conditions, such as chronological age or the era one is born into. But, on very rare occasions, an exceptional or unusual individual is born from an otherwise bland set of beginning circumstances. These individuals are often truly interesting. Spontaneously interesting.
Because it is their Inborn Nature (性/Xing) to do certain things, risk certain things, explore certain things, they are unconscious of the charismatic effect they have on others. They sit at the center of their World, as all of us should, without a thought for the rest of us or our own Worlds. The result is action born of uncontrived, un-self-conscious expression of their own inborn Nature.
Is there anything more captivating to those who have been raised like so much cattle?
Now, as is always the case, a problem can arise when such individuals gain too much attention. People begin to crave the attention, or glory, or rewards, that they perceive such individuals as receiving. This perception gives to a type of scheming drive that destabilizes the social bonds of the Society.
Thus arise the poseurs.
Ironically, a Society infested by schemers, poseurs, con artists, & frauds inevitably comes to value those individuals that are true “Hawks born from Kites” for the deeper, truer, more pure type of spontaneous creation that only they are capable of bringing into reality.
We are all enriched when the Hawks are free to take flight. If only for new possibilities they Embody.