Monday, July 16, 2007

I never say what I want to say

And if the whole world's singing your songs
And all your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone's from now on
And that's not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
But you'll only get uptight

So, usually when artists complain about the trappings of fame, it's usually a recipe for disaster. There's inevitably a backlash, and some of it is understandable. For the most part, I'm totally unforgiving about actors who complain about everyone hounding them, because 1) they make an obscene amount of money given their profession and 2) most of the time, they orchestrate their exact predicament, and so the whining has a false note or ten.

Yet there is something universal in what it is artists get irked by. There is some reason we sometimes feel empathy for them. And I think that reason is that they are experiencing an exaggerated version of what many of us feel- that people often want more from us than we can give, that people gossip about what is happening in our lives, and of course, most distressing (at least to me) of all, that we are misunderstood.

I have finally abandoned the notion that it is possible for people to completely get each other, though it requires me to fight rising tides of hope to do that. And similarly, I think I have abandoned the hope that people understand what I am trying to say when I am writing. The latter, however, is a much trickier task, because it always begs a dreaded question- is the writing just sh*t and therefore unintelligible? And most often, the answer is yes, and so it all comes back to my own inabilities.

But it's even more than that. When I first started this blog, and often times thereafter when I went a bit far in a post, I felt exposed, overexposed. I felt I was sharing too much, and there I had vomited something personal and given it to anyone who happened along, and shouldn't I be more internal? And also that once it was out there, it was out in that form, and it could not be represented again, repackaged, reinterpreted, reimagined into something better or something more. Rough drafts that could never be edited.

Now, it's completely ludicrous to relate this to Wilco's What Light, but at this point, the ludicrous has become my area of specialty. Artists, real artists like Wilco and serious writers and painters, they all must struggle with serious frustration. They put so much into their work, you can feel how much of themselves they put into it, and there must be a sense of loss when their work is devoured, digested, dissected by the masses and begins to feel foreign. When a piece of you starts to feel alien, that is a challenging feeling to absorb. I think most people (or perhaps just me) tend to give their pieces, the little pieces of themselves they're willing to part with, to friends, to loved ones. So to be misunderstood by friends or loved ones feels so jarring, because they carry you with them but they don't see you.

That's a lot of rambling for a beautiful, calm Monday, but all I really wanted to say is that there's something deeply satisfying about Jeff Tweedy's resolution, which is really not a resolution at all. It can best be summed up as- it is what it is, deal. But his lyrics say it so much better, which is why he gets to complain, and I get to shut my mouth.

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