Attention

attention

The harder I work, the more I feel the lack of impact that work produces. Pushing a boulder up a hill over and over may be pointless, but at least it’s a solid tactile sensation and at least you know basically where the rock is located. Right now it feels more like trying to blow a ping pong ball up a ramp while wearing a blindfold. Maybe I’m doing great. Maybe it rolled away a week ago. Who knows. Nothing to do but keep on blowing – a philosophy which, I gather, has served many people well in advancing in their career, but which nevertheless leaves a bitter taste.

Hard work is wonderful, but the harder you work on something the more disappointing it is when it fails to achieve the results desired. Work attains its own momentum, and the more weight put behind it the bigger the catastrophe when it crashes. Most artists start off with no one caring about their work, and that’s fine, because we all start out kind of sucking, and we aren’t trying as hard as we could be, and really, we’re not in our art, not yet. The more we improve, though, the more we try to express, the more it hurts when few people care what’s expressed (or when we perceive that to be the case, whether justly or not).

I probably sound upset right now, or bitter perhaps. That’s not really the case. I’m just wondering if there’s a kind of artistic saturation point being approached, when there’s just not enough people left to care. A point where, regardless of the merit of any work created, there just isn’t anyone left to give a shit, because all of their attention has been consumed by the work of other artists and by their own labors, hobbies, and artistic pursuits.

I guess this is similar to my post last week. We pretend our capacity for paying attention is an inexhaustible resource, when every single day I feel the exhaustion of it being tapped. Because I feel that way, I can’t blame it when people respond to my work with silence, because I can only assume many of them are as exhausted and overstimulated as I am.

Even if the ocean of audience is shrinking, we teach more artists to art, because love of art is beautiful, and because the love of art leads naturally, in many, to creation of the same. We’re comfortable in cannibalizing our own economy of attention to pass our passion forwards into the future. That which drives us to create strains the visibility of our creations by inspiring more creators to compete.

Maybe someday the world will run out of caring. Maybe someday the fabric will stretch too thin, and rip, and no one will have any time for that which you’ve poured yourself into.

Would it still be worth it? If, not just few people, but no one cared? Could you still create? Or would the difference between the stories you tell and the stories yet untold start to melt away, and you can lay content, each night, enjoying that which you never created, inside your mind, where it’s real enough for you, and good enough to entertain your audience of one?

I don’t know. Me, I might or I might not. It’s something I think about though.

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2 comments
  1. Reblogged this on 2davesarebetterthan1 and commented:
    Great blog post about our the shrinking audience of people who carer … would you still be able to create/work/write if no-one cared??

  2. Reblogged this – thanks – was having a day of “does anyone ever see anything I do?” and this really hit home. Then I thought, “You know what – I will still keep on doing what I do, just for me :) “

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