The Artist's Diatribe 2003
Here is a topic I believe is extremely important in the context of power and wealth, and it's come up so many times for me in the past few weeks, I really want to make a public note of it.
And once again, the best way to explain the principles I can come up with is a story.
I was watching a movie about a guy, he was called Alex, and his company - a film company in Hollywood.
It was a smallish company but even so, he had a business partner and about 12 subdirectors/managers/suited folk plus their various secretaries and sub-gremlins managing production crews and such.
The entire company was build around Alex who was the only one who had that "creative spirit" and in the course of the two hours we spend learning about this set up, we hear numerous times that "Alex is the best in the business - when he's on ..." being said by the various suited folk as they're trying to sell the company to various clients.
But Alex is a total mess. He's snorting cocaine by the bucket load and washing it down with coffeemugs full of Single Malt - staggers in half undressed and in a total state 3 hours after the meeting's supposed to start.
All the cleanly suited ones are clearly disgusted with Alex and shake their heads sadly and tut.
As we partake in his day, we get to meet Alex's wife who berates him for being a total loser, a prick and a piece of shit, unbearable to live with, and says she's going to leave him. With her perfect hair, her make-up and her elegant black suit she is hardly distinguishable from the suited ones and as she storms out of his office, he snorts some more cocain and opens the second bottle of the day. It's lunchtime.
There is also a girlfriend - a pretty young actress who comes in and gives him a blow job and just as he's about to come, stops and says, "You WILL get me that role in the movie as you promised ...?" upon which he runs away, hides himself in his office, drinks some more and snorts some more cocaine.
He's about to explode completely. He's shaking, crying, trying to force himself to stop crying, drinks some more, totally off his head.
In walks his business partner (cleanly suited and with a clip board) and tells him that important clients are here to see him and that they want to see HIM ("Alex is the best in the business ... when he's on ..."). He is totally disgusted with Alex, procedes to berate him some more, tells Alex to pull himself together for chrissake, these are really important clients, come on we need you ... and thus drives the totally incoherent mess of a man to find it in himself somehow to get up and stumble into that business meeting.
So by now, *I* am watching this and indeed, *I* am Alex.
The only one who's creative in that entire business.
Who is *everybodies* MEAL TICKET.
Without whom NOT ONE OF THESE BLOODY MUPPETS WOULD EVEN BE THERE!
And who is about to - well, basically die.
He's about 40 and he's finished. You can see that. They may wring perhaps one more project out of him if they're lucky but after that, what are they gonna do? Where will they find another Alex? Another Alex to leech on to and put thru their muppet machine grinder until he's got absolutely nothing left to give?
I really don't know what happened but on that day, with that movie, I saw so clearly how it all works with creative people.
And what I saw more clearly than anything I've ever seen is that there should have been someone there to PROTECT ALEX, to be on HIS SIDE, to actually understand him and how he could NOT function in that bleak stainless steel soulless corporate world of 9-5, press the button and perform like some trained seal or some creative robot, well at least not without the coke, and the whiskey ...
Instead, he got endless pressure from the wife, the girlfriend, the business partner and all around to perform in this MUPPET way which is NOT THE WAY OF THE CREATIVE ARTIST at all, basically not and STRUCTURALLY NOT.
And what I saw also and with total clarity was that his inability to perform like that was being interpreted by HIMSELF AS A PERSONAL FLAW, AS A FATAL WEAKNESS.
Why couldn't he get up and look all beautifully spruced up like his business partner at 8am for the meeting?
Well of course - because he's WEAK!
And here it clicked together for me and I stood up and shouted:
NO, Alex, nononono!!!!
It is NOT because you're weak that you're here in this state at all!
It is because your business partner went to bed at 11 in his little muppet house with his wife, 2 kids and the requisite Golden Retriever and slept all night long until the alarm clock sounded.
When YOU were up all night AGAIN, battling your demons, walking up and down, writing frantically the ideas that poured through YOUR head, making the sketches and the drafts to give to the production team the next day and you fell asleep with your head on the manuscript in total exhaustion when the dawn broke!
And you woke up at ten with a start, with a massive headache and in desperate need of rest, but instead you showered, took the coke to keep you going, wrapped up your designs and then drove like a maniac to the office to be there AT ALL - feeling like a dirty loser all the way!
Let your business partner try it, just the once, why don't you.
Give him YOUR thoughts, and your nightmares, and the pictures, and sounds in your head, the feelings in YOUR body - and see how he would cope!
Who is strong here and who is weak?
And your wife. Who is complaining that you missed the dinner party whilst you were doing all of that. Who is complaining that you are NOT home at six, shagging her by 9.30, in bed by 11 "like any normal man would be ..."
Well Alex, you're NOT a normal man. You are an artist. You are an asset. If you try to be a good muppet too, you will tear yourself to pieces and you will end up - exactly as you did in the end.
And there was no-one there to turn to when the chips were down. No-one there to protect you. No-one there to call a halt to this travesty, this insane torture that turned into ever more insane self-torture of failure and pain and more failure still along the way.
Not your wife gives a damn about you. Not the girlfriend who only wants a role and for that she pretends to like you and suck your dick. Not your business partner who doesn't care about you and drags you half dead into a business meeting when you need SANCTUARY to have any chance of survival at all.
"Can you give me sanctuary
I must find a place to hide
a place for me tonight.
Can you give me soft asylum
I can't take it anymore
The man is at the door ..."
(Jim Morrison, another artist)
Who cares for you, Alex?
Who loves you and takes your side?
It is the appalling and one and only truth.
And the most heartbreaking thing of all is that the ONE person who SHOULD HAVE cared and did have it in their power to call it all to a halt, didn't do so.
The one person, the ONLY person who knows what it's like being you and really understands you.
The one person who could have saved you, SHOULD HAVE SAVED YOU, failed you as well.
YOU failed you as well, Alex.
You failed you the minute you bought into that whole shit muppet deal and bought the lie that YOU were the one who was weak, and THEY were the ones who are strong and capable.
Capable of WHAT?
Pushing fucking buttons, that's all. And that is - nothing.
When you belived that you were weak, that is when you became incapable of protecting you, incapable of saving you, and you were at the mercy of these others who simply and without a thought or care drove you into the ground for their own purposes.
You failed you, Alex, and now, you're paying the price in full.
Well, Alex, I am very sorry that you are dead.
I'm sorry that you died thinking of yourself as a loser, a lunatic, a weakling and someone who was worth less than all these others who surrounded you.
I am sorry that you lived a lie and then died a lie - what that waste that was.
What a shame that we will never get to see the movies you would have made when you were 60, full of experience and in flow, with power and wisdom. It's a terrible loss to all of us.
But I tell you what, Alex.
So that your sacrifice and your life and work doesn't count for nothing, I'll do something else.
I'll take note and I will learn from your mistakes, and I'll apply all of that to me.
On your behalf and my behalf, and that of all the others like us who have suffered from this misconception and delusional lie that we are weak and worthless because we cannot do it *THEIR* way, I'll make a stand today.
I'll write the "Artist's Diatribe" and I'll hope to hell that SOMEONE HEARS ME who needs to understand this, and not just understand it, but really know it and takes action - to protect themselves.
To do what you did not do, Alex, for YOUR self - to stand up to their muppet machines and to say, well if you want my stuff, then you will have to wait until I deliver it to you, in my own time.
To say, I'm tired now and I need to rest, leave me alone.
To take an UNCOMPROMISING stand and say to them, "I am NOT like you. Don't try and make me like you. Don't even try and make me conform to YOUR schedules - ***I*** cannot work that way. I will not ALLOW myself to be made to work in a way that hurts me, that damages me, and I WILL fight for my own self, for my body and for my mind, and for the right to live MY life."
To stand up and to tell them, "I know my value and my worth. Without me, there would be NO company at all. Remember this. You work yourselves AROUND ME and you support me, and I will show you EXACTLY how you need to do that because I know that you haven't got a clue how I work and what I need."
EVERYONE needs to understand that they simply cannot pass on THEIR safety, salvation, sanctuary and in the end, their LIFE to someone else and make it this other person's responsibility - it is totally impossible a thing to ask, it is impossible to fulfil, and it is just plain impossible - full stop.
EVERYONE needs to understand that they are their own responsibility and they need to be their own protector, powerful, strong and congruent, always and no matter what. All else is simply an illusion. An illusion that can only lead to suffering, and misery, and accusations against other people who could not EVER, no matter what, shoulder such responsibility for another. No father can, no lover, no friend, nor a child, or a state, a police, a religion - no-one can.
Everyone needs to know this but artists need to know this more than anyone else because for them the "general protective devices" of the majority of the population (2 weeks holiday a year, on the 7th day you shall rest, lunch break at 12 et al) is nowhere near good enough and most practically, highly structurally incorrect and DAMAGING - even when they're meant to be helpful and protective.
The general protection devices do NOT protect the artist who needs a different and often a totally idiosyncratic array of protective devices - and an array at that which ONLY the artist themselves can know about, for they are the ONLY one who knows "what it's really like being ME" from the inside.
Artists more than anyone else must STOP trying to rely on others to make boundaries for them, take actions on their behalf or protect them from this and that - because these others will do it COMPLETELY WRONG and can't help doing it that way.
Artists more than anyone must STOP looking to others for help, support and protection and must protect themselves, learn to protect themselves, re-learn to know that this is not just a right, but their FIRST DUTY to themselves, to their lives, to their work and to their contributions.
And artists more than anyone else must STOP measuring their performance in muppet terms - because if they do, they will draw the wrong conclusions and like Alex, begin to believe that they are WEAK because they are not meeting THOSE performance targets or judgement devices set to measure the performance of what might as well be a different species from a different planet altogether.
Alex's merits simply cannot be judged by whether or not he makes it to 3 year's worth of 8am meetings on time.
His strengths, merits and contributions MUST not be judged by whether or not he cleans his pool with the same regularity as all the muppet-neighbours in his drive do. Whether or not he manages to pay his taxes with splendid regularity, or whether or not he has enough nerves left after battling with himself constantly to take his wife out to the country club every Tuesday as promised.
If he tries to do that, he'll come up short, lacking and wanting and a FAILURE every single time.
And not because he is a failure, but because he has put himself into the wrong competition.
There is a reason why in boxing they have flyweights and heavyweights.
There is a reason why at dog shows they put Poodles into separate categories to German Shepherds.
That reason is that if you apply the Poodle rules to the best of German Shepherds, it cannot help but fail miserably - their ears don't hang down, they're way, way too big, their tails don't stand up and their fur isn't curly!
A German Shepherd makes a TERRIBLE poodle and we immediately understand how insanely stupid it would be to make such a judgement in that example - but for Alex, there was only ONE category by which to judge himself and his performance, and that was the "It's A Wonderful Life" category of being a successful 21st century Western muppetman.
The essential key to this is absolutely, and this is WHY I am repeating it and explaining it not just once, but from many different angles, the following which I will quote from before:
I said to Alex:
"YOU failed you as well, Alex.
You failed you the minute you bought into that whole shit muppet deal and bought the lie that YOU were the one who was weak, and THEY were the ones who are strong and capable."
This is the essential key - namely to compete in the wrong categories altogether and to come out - a FAILURE.
Thinking that you are weak. Thinking that you should have tried harder, harder still, that you gave your best and it still wasn't enough - THAT and only THAT is the true beginning of the end.
Because then you get to live it, and in living being a weak failure, the evidence piles up harder and harder still, you are less and less able to protect yourself, more and more reliant on others who despise you more and more the more you have FAILURE written all over yourself - that's exactly how it was for you, wasn't it, Alex.
That IS how it got to the point that day when someone shot you dead, you thanked them for the release and died with a smile on your lips because you were glad to get out of the nightmare of your own creation your life had become.
But this is where it ends for me, too.
For me very personally, I understood something.
That like you, Alex, I am not and never was weak.
That like you, the effort and willpower it took me to function for this long is all the testimonial and proof either of us would EVER need to finally and once and for all put that idea to bed that we were "weak".
We're not weak. We are incredible, considering the circumstances and what we have put OURSELVES through.
Considering how we have never respected who we actually were and never gave ourselves ANY credit for what we can do and did do, every step of the way, but ONLY berated ourselves for being what we're not - and making our lives ever harder as a result.
Oh, but for sure I understand how it works when you're the ONLY one and EVERYONE ELSE is of that other type - it is so very easy to end up thinking, "There's something wrong with me."
To try and turn yourself inside out to become like them. To pretend to be like them, no matter how much it hurts and how WRONG it feels in every fibre of your being.
The proverbial ugly duckling.
But that's enough now, and it is OVER.
Alex, my poor dead friend, for you this is to late.
But for me and all the other artists out there, few they are and each one all alone amidst a sea of these others, there is the possibility of change now.
A clear cut route out of the cycle of self destruction and helplessness.
And all it takes is to stop judging yourself and your own performance and achievements by OTHER PEOPLE'S STANDARDS, no matter who they may be.
As soon as we stop doing this, we stop thinking we are weak, and as soon as we can stop thinking that we're weak, we will indeed become strong again. And able to protect OURSELVES as we should, as we must, as we must learn to do, right now, in every way.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was ...
The Artist's Diatribe
In Memory Of Alex
by Silvia Hartmann
Suggested further reading:
The Rich & Healthy Witch:
The Essential Survival Guide For Magical People