Have you ever encountered someone who makes you feel like a blind-drunk imitating a master ballet dancer?
The resulting feelings are thus:
I’m breathless and deflated and rising like a balloon excreting it’s worth and I’m bleeding with all of the oozing of a soul that’s just seen itself in the full chiaroscuro of a hand held in front of the bright light that makes everything in the dark take a new shape.
Backing up a thousand days for a moment. I’m a tech entrepreneur with a background in journalism-lite and a pedigree of sweet-and-sour romances. The successes and failures in each of these has shaped me much in the way that the wind shapes the desert. I’m a product of my environment and my experiences and now I’m typing this because as an artist I’ve come to a Golden Brick in The Road.
A golden brick in the road is that thing/person/book/idea that you come across and upon finding it you’re never the same. It’s spiritual alchemy. Real world meaning – understanding given to feeling, feeling given to ideas, new ideas, new understandings, new questions; answers to unasked questions having lurked too long in the recesses of your heart. A golden brick in the road is a pirate’s telescope for the soul. We experience it and we see distant lands and possibilities that quiver in the wind like palms on the shore of our dreams.
Tonight, taking a break from menial computer labor [coding and design], I saw a post on facebook by The New Yorker highlighting a one Steve Roggenbuck.
As someone who writes poetry – and who pretentiously likes to believe I have the soul of a poet – I was intrigued by this self-described ‘internet poet’ because personally I tend to feel that I was born in the wrong era as far as being an artist; as I recently wrote as part of a short story I am working on:
There was no place in the world for men born in the wrong era. Troubled men, men with confused consciences and selfish empathies. Impulsive men, men with vices and opinions which caused suffering in equal measures to themselves and those foolish enough to love the idealistic fools, the artists; the reckless intellectuals.
Admittedly this was relatively biographical and while I’m sure I may end up regretting that admission, I just have to claim it because lately my identity as an artist has been wrapped up in the dark and brooding misery that almost all artists surely experience at one time or another. And it’s the misery of not feeling able to communicate the inadmissible truths: the Jungian loneliness of being full of feeling and having little medium to express it in a manner that others in turn relate to and validate.
Because how the fuck can I express myself with the full double rainbow of my tears and my fears and my hopes and my dreams in 2014 – how is that possible today outside of journals and academia and people who actively seek out and read literature? How will this be appreciated beyond the posterity of my potential progeny reading this in the year 2153?
Then tonight, as I watched this video suddenly all of that complex and frustrated emotion became rather illusory:
And watching another video of his, the impasse within me continued to dissolve:
What can I say, I mean, I think the characteristic quality of this golden brick in the road was that, like all golden bricks in life, it expanded my idea of what was possible. Particularly what I felt was possible with art – and while I may not be quite as Andy Milonakis / Lil B as some of Steve Roggenbuck’s art is, I’d like to think I’ve got a sort of David Foster Wallace / Phillip K. Dick / Hemingway / Terry Gilliam / whoknowswhothefuck vibe to my writing, but the truth is, I’m as unique and bizarre, and average, and different as you are, and I’m definitely full blown ENFP as far as personality types go – but the point is, that in a world where we have to have so many schemas for interacting with life (i.e., ‘who we are’ at work, ‘who we are’ at a bar with our friends, ‘who we are’ with strangers) it’s especially trying as an artist to try and create your art and to cultivate yourself as an artist in a manner that balances authenticity with integrity; because the danger isn’t in failing to create but in creating in a manner that fails to communicate who you are and what you want to say. If you fail to do that, you’ve failed as an artist.
What I found so endearing about the work of Steve Roggenbuck is that it felt fearless and to me that’s where real authenticity in art exists, in the ability of the artist to express himself honestly – despite expectations and styles and rules. That’s what makes Roggenbuck original; that’s what slapped me in the face tonight: the fear of my own failure to do so. Because the truth is, that like you, I want to be liked, I want to be accepted, but the real truth is, that in life, that’s simply not living; that’s being a puddle sitting in a pothole in the road and thinking the world was made just for you – and it wasn’t made for you to conform to, it was made for you to shape. So… what are you going to do? Be you.
The risk is not in the wrong people not liking you. The risk is in the right people not loving you.
Thank you Steve Roggenbuck for helping me see what it means to be a poet today.