THE STORY OF THE ARTIST
If you ask anyone to tell you their story, starting from the beginning—to tell you what they know about themselves to be true—most will begin with a secondhand story. With complete trust in the external source from which they derived the information of their origins they will say, "well, I was born on such and such day, in this and that place" . . . and in this fashion, from the very beginning it is evident we are indoctrinated to live under the influence, rule and agenda of one or another external dictators whispering sweet persuasions into our ears at every turn. We are bred to be passive pawns whose identity dare not delve, with any depth, into the abyss of an individual's true nature and potential. But what of the spirit of the internal dictator?—were such a thing to surface in this day and age.
With the veracity of a Phenomenologist’s methodology the internal dictator sings a different song about the origins of the individual; a song whose melody reverberates off the walls of a chasm so deep, the echoes turn inwards—onto itself—creating a symphony of cascading, endless decay. So let us then begin from within . . . with what is given to us from firsthand experience, let us delineate our true origins.
I know these things to be true:
In an instant out of eternal timelessness I "arrived" into a situation, the first experience of which we may call consciousness, that is, perception of what I now know to be called a room, sitting by what I now know to be the object of an audio speaker. The room contained other vague inanimate objects such as the floor, staircase, etc. These perceptions were accompanied by an abstract sense of other, mobile beings near the room and an even more abstract and vague sense of being connected to a body with moving limbs . . .
In my next experience I found "myself" in a dark cave with creatures creeping out from the walls. Afraid, I crouched down in a cart I was riding in. No longer able to control the cart with the steering wheel in front of me, I experienced a new sensation: that of fear—fear that the cart would veer off course, crash and harm myself and the man who sat to my left.
These are some of the first experiences of my origins I am able to ascertain. It was only after the facts of these early life events that I was told secondhand stories about how, in the event of the first situation, my family and I moved to Utah when I was three years of age. It was there that I had had my first conscious experience while playing on the floor of our apartment. Some time later, in the second situation, I was frightened while riding with my father through the haunted house cart ride at Lagoon, the local amusement park. It was not through the birth canal but rather via a dreamlike sequence of events that both myself and a world, together emerged out of a blank slate of timeless nothingness.
Sure, from the perspective of others there are some prior events that rationally justify how it is anyone is able to arrive at the original Situation—woman meets man, they procreate, a child is born—but a simple exercise in Cartesian skepticism highlights the fallacy of placing our faith in secondhand sources (for they may be evil demons). Whether these secondhand stories are thrust upon us by our parents, our religious texts, our scientists, or our government, the truth is they come into play only after the fact of the original Situation all of us arrive in.
“The Situation” can be described as such: we arrive into experience as a subject with conscious perceptions in a world. The world has space which contains objects. Some of the objects of the world are inanimate, while others move reportedly of their own effort. Of the moving objects some are similar in appearance to us with varying degree. Of ourselves we are seemingly attached to the object of a body with limbs which we can control or will, to a certain degree, more so than we can directly will the actions of other objects. Through our interactions with the objects and other beings in the world we formulate value judgments (e.g., good, better, bad, worse) via the faculties of emotion, intuition, instinct, thought, and desire. These faculties seem to count as the subjective "I"—one way or another—that constitute the foundation of "the self" within the body it wills. Based on the value judgments we make, we decide just what kinds of actions to perform with our bodies—the possibilities of which, dependent upon the application of our creative abilities, can be unlimited.
One may decide to walk across a continent, do a handstand, wiggle their index finger back and forth endlessly for years, climb a mountain, sit and stare at a screen all day, do a dance, sing, kill something, invent a new language, walk in circles until one passes out . . . and so on, from the most practical to the most absurd of actions, ad infinitum.
Given the Situation—being in a world of full of things, dealing with our sentiments and totally free to will our bodies to do an infinite number of creative actions—there is only one true practical and philosophical question to ask: what ought we to do and why? It is in answer to this question that all the stories of the world then arise and take hold our individual will power in the grasp of another's. One foreign dictator’s agenda after another, we are thrown into a wind-of-wills.
As children, our parents and others may tell us stories about the way the world is, "you'll go to school and learn such and such things so that when you're grown you'll have this and that job." we are told stories about money, about practicality, about the dream of white weddings and rugged individuals climbing up corporate ladders to the pedestals of success. We are told stories about higher beings that created hierarchies of angels, saints, humans and demons. Stories about stardust steering the course of particles colliding like billiard balls in a void of dark matter.
Disguised as a wolf in sheep's clothing, these stories attempt to play themselves off as a passive, harmless pastime. But beware! For once these tall tales take hold the minds of men, their powers decree a path, likewise, for the body’s obedience. One narrative after another the wind-of-wills collide, cancel and amplify one another till soon, forms a great and massive whirlwind which—in the wake of its chaos—destroys all individual autonomy. In this manner, so sets the conditions for the perfect storm I’d like to call “the Story”—a grand metanarrative power scheme set to harness the productive activities of the individual by restricting the boundaries of creative action and expression.
Origins of the Story
In tracing the development of how the Story forms, let us not forget that every story, at one point, too arose from different individuals that found themselves in the Situation; they arose from the actions one deemed worthy to will based on their values. But perhaps for lack of realization of our true origins—origins oriented in freedom and creative ability—there formed a habit of rejecting the infinite alternatives of action at one's disposal. Instead, one set of actions which happened to be suitable for one individual, in one distinct time and context, is favored. And because some particular set of actions worked once—upon a time, we seek to transmit the usefulness of those actions to all others throughout all of time.
The oral tradition, being the primary medium to transmit useful information, generated stories passed down from one generation to the next. But with a tunnel-vision-like lack-of-creativity, most stories then attempt to play themselves off as being ascribed an absolute nature. They wish themselves to be an essence-preceding-existence, with a grounding of their own, and somehow deriving from some transcendent, higher authority; not the Situation—as all stories told by mankind originate.
Once men become aware of this mechanism for transmitting useful information, like all other natural mechanisms man has knowledge of, he uses it as an exploitative tool in seeking advance for himself and his like minded kind. This exploitation, in turn, is the creation mechanism—a twist-of-transmission—from which arises the Story as the primary tool used by a class or group in power to maintain their power via the suppression of the will of others, and likewise, inter-personally, for one individual to appeal to as justification in the exploitation of another.
A Twist of Faith
Throughout history we encounter many twists to many, at one time useful, original stories told by wise individuals:
In Religion we are told the story of Abraham, the father of faith. A man who in following his own personal God—his internal dictator—achieved prosperity for himself and his people. But ever since, two groups descending from Abraham’s seed have each built up their own versions of his story into a metanarrative Story—each using their own modifications to justify themselves as heirs to the land of promise. From one man’s story, twisted in two directions we’ve now seen many decades worth of blood spilled over a sibling rivalry scaled to holy proportions.
In the Sciences we’re told the story of a man named Newton who went about navigating his world in a highly methodical, observant fashion. Trusting only what his eyes and ears repeatably observed, he was able to explain and predict the behaviour of many of the objects in the world. Somewhere along the line we decided that his methodology, in helping advance innovation and technology, best serve the world by viewing everything through the lens of quantification. In supplanting the previous religious and spiritual methodologies, scientific method, logic, mathematics and inductive reasoning soon became the only trusted methods to access truth.
Nowadays, much like the fallacy in defining art as “that which is made by an artist”, truth on all levels is simply, “that which the scientists say is true”, and should science lack an explanation for something—that thing must not be real. With this mindset in place, the Story of science has run amok. Beyond the bounds that its own methodology demarcates for itself, the sciences have gone on to rape the soil from which we grow our crops; medicate our societies that suffer from, among other things, the ailments of our chemically foreign crops; fear monger us with pseudo-science of planet-sized proportions; and provide us with a strictly reductionistic view of reality that strips us of all meaning, purpose and agency.
Last but not least is the Story of the State. In America this originates with the stories of our founding fathers (George Washington et al.). Their stories originated from men fighting for their freedom from the tyrants of the Old World, and the democracy they build with its system of “checks and balances” in place to protect free individuals from the tyrannical sins of the past. But sin they did. After massacring one group of natives already occupying the new lands, the statesmen of the land-of-the-free went on to build the prosperity of the future from the fruits of slave labour; perpetuating the cycle of enslavement as its new masters.
Even in the so-called “free world” today we may believe we act from our own volition, but sadly, these beliefs merely provide further evidence of the strength of the Story and its mission to condition. For a democracy, by another name, is simply a tyranny of the majority; and welfare capitalism confuses its benefits with its benefactors—that is, the attitude to “lift yourself up by your own bootstraps” is capitalism for the poor, while lobbyist persuaded subsidies and big bank bailouts equate to socialism for the rich.
To be sure, plenty of narratives still transmit value—but at the high cost of falling under the spell of the Story. Systematically, the religious, scientific, and political storytellers spoon feed us their propagandized agendas, one after the other, each taking up where the other was defeated in the ongoing War of Ideas. Each favoring only their own, patriarchal dominant, self interest scheme, while censoring out the untold stories of others. In a postmodern world that lacks in legitimation of information the dominant groups make good use of the school system, mass media, popular culture and by any means necessary, to be sure their Story is the only one told.
The greatest horror of it all, is how most of us seek meaning in what role we can play in maintaining the circulation of these twisted schemes! We look left, right and external to seek validation from our enslaved and sedated neighbors, instead of digging down and rising up with an internal validity. Are we to look for our place in a world set up to keep us in our place?—the high born high and the low born low. Just how long are we to continue our compliance in serving these foreign storytellers as they strip us of all internal proclivities?
The Story of the Artist
Enough with the stories of others! The time has come for the internal dictator to shatter the shallow threshold of an indoctrinated society and rise up to a new elevation. From these new heights the individual must lay claim to its original property—the human body and man’s individual will. But to rise up the internal dictator must first dig—internally and with depth—to unearth, rediscover and reclaim its own original desires, original emotions and original thoughts; and from these depths it must then push upwards and climb with only one pursuit in mind—the elevation of the individual.
To undertake this task the individual must operate first and foremost from the unique and original vantage point of their own time, context and experiences. It is from this frame of reference—untainted by the exploitative forces of others—that the individual can access a ceaselessly unlimited creative force. This creative force is, in turn, the escape-velocity propelling-agent used to break free from the shackles of the gravity of the Story.
If this task sounds familiar it is because there has come before, a certain kind of individual bold enough to write an authentic story of their own; for this is the Story of the Artist. Yes, it is the Artist who spends a lifetime undoing the conditioning of the world, just so they can draw, paint, sing, dance, write and create freely, as they once did as a child. It is the Artist who fearlessly sacrifices the comforts and security of a life lived by the rules for the freedom and beauty of broken rules and new games. It is the Artist who is an Anarchist, unbound by any divine authority or artificial law designed to bind mankind. And finally, it is the Artist who not only creates value of the highest quality, but re-evaluates value in itself, pushing its worth into all aspects of life.
The Artist is a certain kind of heroic Übermensch, that is, the kind that battles for the transvaluation-of-values on the front lines. For the Artist is the avant-garde. Without hesitation they push forward into the unknown and onto grounds where others fear to tread. Like wandering stars, the Artist travels alone through blackness and darkness in search of a stable ground that he or she can use as a foundation to build an authentic, good faith upon. Where others are swayed and led astray by the whirlwinds of the Story, the Artist, with an uncompromising and unbending spirit, marches forward on a mission to set the Story straight.
So goes the Story of the Artist—hoping that in chasing the muse within, it will beckon others to awaken from the dogmatic slumbers of the Story and remember their dreams, write their own stories and sing their own songs. With each brushstroke, keystroke, melody and movement, the Artist unleashes a call to step out from the shadows of a stranger's purpose and meaning to create meaning and create a purpose for one’s self. From here the question is posed: who will hear the call of the Story of the Artist and open an ear to the song of their internal dictator? I know I will always listen close for that faint melody that whispers in the walls of the gale force winds of the world, because soon, those whispers will become a voice, that voice a call, and that call a violently beautiful roar that echoes throughout the ages and puts a final silence to the incessant babbling of the world—hush now.
Jeremy Dahnke, 2016