Thursday, April 13, 2006
Insufferable Pretension, Part 4

Well. Yes. Quite.

I don't know about you, but I had an interesting day yesterday. Short version: I finally got a fucking job, but due to certain circumstances elsewhere, it turns out I probably won't be able to take it. Bah.

I'm not actually too disappointed about that. As jobs go, it would've been far from the worst I've ever had, and there were some definite good points. The work atmosphere was lovely, the work would've been easy and probably often interesting, and I was actually a very good candidate. On the other hand, the pay, while not horrible, was definitely inadequate. Worst of all, the job almost certainly would've stripped me of all the things that I actually live for on a day-to-day basis, at least for some months. I was going to have to give up doing an awful lot of stuff I really want to do, and that would've sucked.

In the end, though, none of those were the reason why I'll probably have to turn this one down; they just mean that I don't feel all that broken up about it. Still, it made for a strange kind of day -- instead of getting all tense about whether I could get the job, I decided to just turn up in jeans and sneakers to see what happened, not really caring whether I got the job or not. I nailed the tests, nailed the interview, and walked out the door with an offer of work. And then, a couple of hours later, I discovered that I really couldn't take the job at all. So it was a bit of an up-and-down day for me.

The thing is -- and I'm not even going to deny that I'm boasting here -- I'm actually a fucking good employee. I'm capable, competent, productive, I know lots about lots of things and can pick other stuff up quickly, I'm focused enough to get stuff done but still relaxed enough to get along -- I'm exactly the kind of person I'd want to hire if I were in a position to hire someone for something. My job is never going to be my life, but for my personal level of ambition I'm top-fucking-notch. I know it; the vast majority of the people I've worked with have confirmed it; the problem is convincing the people who fill the jobs of it. I can do a lot better than the job I was offered today... not to denigrate the importance of the job (which is actually extremely important to some people), but it would frankly be a bit of a waste of my abilities. If I'm going to sell out, I at least want to be respectably compensated and given work that involves more than typing fast and speaking clearly.

The last couple of months have been very frustrating because, in spite of all of the above, it's been rejection after rejection -- I know I shouldn't take it personally, but after enough of these, I just start to wonder why nobody wants me. I've been repeatedly told that (whatever I'm doing) I'll eventually find someone who'll pay me decently for my work, but it always comes from people who can't actually pay me themselves. The people who can pay just ignore me. And like I say, that's been just a little frustrating.

But after today, I can at least say that my near misses are getting nearer, and less miss-y. Maybe I just need to learn not to give a shit; it worked pretty well today.

Any... way...

Now that I've blown most of your attention span on that, what the fuck was I going to write about?

Okay, how about this: there are lots of kinds of creativity besides the obvious ones. I really like that idea, and I think we artistically-minded people should be talking that point up a lot more. For example, one regular commentor on this blog (he knows who he is) says he's not an artistic type. But he's also said the he's built a house and raised kids. And I ask you: what could possibly be more creative, more artistic than that? Isn't having a child the ne plus ultra of creative, artistic acts? It's making a person! Not a representation of a person, or an idea of a person, but an actual person. (As a side note, one question that frequently recurs in my mind first cropped up in respect to a quote about writing. It was about collaboration among writers and ran along the lines of, "two people writing a book is like three people having a baby." But surely it does take three people to have a baby, yes? There are, by definition, three people involved: mommy, and daddy, and baby. Isn't the baby itself as actively engaged, in its own way, as the parents? So... yeah, anyway, you get my point, so I shall digress.)

Being an active participant in society is an artistic act, undertaken en masse with everyone else. Religion was the very seat of artistic thought before it got its head stuck up its ass. Science is creative; mathematics is creative; whether or not they might qualify as "art" is open to discussion, but I think I could be persuaded to make room for them. The working definition of "art" I finally settled on is, art is anything that means more than what it actually is, in and of itself. A novel is really ink on (on average) a pound and a half of paper; Guernica is some slap on a canvas; Mozart's Requiem is a series of sensations in the brain brought about by the disturbance of mechanical energy propagating through matter in the form of a wave. Obviously they're also a lot more than that... but that's my whole point. If you think about it for a while, the question becomes not, "what is art?" but rather, "what's NOT art?"

My film professor in Vermont, who was a pretty good guy, thought that the real problem with our society is that collectively we lack imagination. He said that we have difficulty visualizing things and circumstances that don't currently exist. That's why we couldn't foresee the mess we've made of Iraq; that's why we can't muster up the motivation to do something about our little oil problem; that's why we seem to have given up on improving our society, instead just trying to make it as comfortable as possible for those of us who are lucky enough to already be comfortable. I think he had a damn good point. What would our world be like if everyone approached their lives not as something at which to succeed or fail, but as a continual work of art, in which both success and failure have equal artistic value? What if, when choosing how to act, we considered the beauty of our actions as well as their benefits and costs? What if we could step back and attempt to perceive even the darker aspects of our natures as a valid part of the overall artwork of humanity? Not to propagate evil things, but to acknowledge that they are, however ugly, a part of the work we've collectively created? To recognize that even short, ugly, brutish lives have the same weight and meaning as long, beautiful, tranquil ones? It's easy to perceive the big things in life as having meaning, but what if we tried to do it with all the mundane stuff as well? It's not particularly difficult to do; we've all done it, if only for a few moments at a time. But what if we agreed that doing this was not only useful, but vitally important? What if we didn't wait for a consensus on the matter, but just started to live that way individually? What would make that any different from being an artist?

Was that pretentious enough for a Thursday?
1:14 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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