Diatribe On the Small or Diatribe on Courage

It takes a bit of courage, a lot, to be an artist, to create. That is why not everyone makes it. It has nothing to do with talent, but with courage. The courage to say and do what you must, what it is, what comes out. The courage to make it known and face it and declare it, with all certainty, “this is mine”. That is why we couldn’t. We lacked courage. I do not think that we lacked talent, we had plenty of it, imagination, madness. We used it to live. Life was our canvas and there we put everything. But we got scared. We got scared of the mark we could leave, indissoluble, in time. We got scared of leaving something concrete and real in our wake. We were afraid to say, yes, I am this, so what? We thought that maybe others were not going to approve. Who are the others? Our parents, our family, our friends, the community where we live, the community of artists, of those who do the same as we do, the world. We are so worried about what others are going to say and think about us, that we cannot do anything. Worry paralyzes us. We hide. And this is how we replace making art by living this strange life, captivating at times because of the out of the ordinary, outside the rules. We smoke to forget reality, to make it a little more fantastic and less disgusting, less like what it is. Maybe the disgusting ones are us.

We hate ourselves so much. We hate our bodies so far from perfect, our bodies with extra kilos, with wrinkles and signs of decay. They also show us that time passes, and we stay stagnant. We hate our minds that entertain us with frivolities, stupidities, small everyday things. We hate those little things! We hate our small and inconstant lives that do not lead us to anything, only to more small lives and more boring days like these, small, flat. We hate our smallness and our cowardice. We hate the world for crushing us and forcing us to accept a reality that we did not build, to which we almost fell by neglect, by fear, by the dread of the unknown. We are as small as the reality that surrounds us every day, and that is why we hate ourselves. We hate what we are and what we will never become. We hate that possibility that got stuck at some point in history. That possibility that has not been realized but that has made us wait and think that sometime someday would possibly be real. We hate our hope, and what remains of that desire to overcome, from time to time, to become that which we wanted to become. We hate that little desire because that desire keeps us wishing and alert, but it turns out that the only thing we really want is not to be, to vanish like the smoke that comes out of the pipe, we want to burn like those dry leaves that at least, in combustion, serve to something.

We hide. We play this game of saying that we want to do something, but we don’t do it. Why? Why do we not do it? Because if we did, the game will be over. And we are afraid to see it end because maybe at the end we lose. Maybe at the end of the game we realize that there were others better than us, damn it, and if we do not finish the game we will never find out, right? Then we keep playing, like this, hiding, from time to time coming out into the light for a few seconds, and hiding again. For a few minutes we think that we have something, that we are behind something important, magnificent, for a few brief moments we imagine that now we will be able to, that now we truly are close to a fantastic idea. But soon we start to lose speed, lose momentum, and so without realizing it, we are out of the game again, looking at everything behind the shop-windows, contemplating how the other players play the game and how we would like to participate but we do not have the time, we do not have the money, we do not have a place, we do not have the energy, and yes, we do not have the only thing that we really need to have: balls.

That’s why the smoke helps, the smoke creates little castles in the air, fables to which we cling, we hang from those flaming smoke plumes that take us away for a few hours, to float over all the things and see them very tiny down there. So, for as long as the high lasts, we are big, gigantic, we are above the world, above everything and everyone and all the schemes no longer matter, we feel superior and omnipotent. We are the gods of everything and everyone and we forget who we were. Until it’s over, and life is again small, ugly, absurd and inconsistent, like us.

Pic by James McLendon
Pic by James McLendon

(written by my alterego Cleopatra in Pasadena, California, 2008)