My last post drew a comment that said I hide away too much. I should do more videos and talks.
My response, that I’m in Finland and that it’s nice to be missed, was mostly a polite cover for some very defensive reactions that the comment inspired in me. Aside from the fact that I’m here in a Scandinavian cabin specifically to devote myself to working on a book that, when the vast amount of work it demands is finally done, should generate a few more videos and talks, aside from this—what right does someone who doesn’t know me have to describe me as “hiding”, or assert, even with the best of intentions, that I should do anything?
It’s flattering, of course, that anyone out there wants more of the stuff that I do. But the very act of pondering the notion that some people might feel they have a right to this stuff, that I am obliged to people I don’t know in this way, seems a little much for my usually modest and deferring ego. I recognize the comment as innocent of the weight of all these issues I’m drawing out of it, but they are there. This crazy mess of mass-scale society leaves us with these contradictions. In a tribe, one assumes I would have ended up as some kind of story-teller; or, lacking such vague social roles as are possible in mass society, I would have been forced off the deep end into the perilous vocation of the shaman. In that situation, I would have had an obligation to my people, to create, to perform, to inspire, in the same way that anyone would have been obliged by the skills they contribute to the collective good. Doesn’t everything I’ve written, demanding we be inspired by these pre-modern models of society, indicate that I see myself in that way, and consider my creativity a social commitment?
To the extent that I’ve received positive feedback, I do. At the same time, a part of me that is unavoidably here, now, in this society, dealing with its reality, says, “So fucking what?” Who cares if I never write or create anything ever again, if that’s what pleases me? Is anyone entitled to care about this? Magnify this little dilemma, caught between the very real social obligations that are felt by anyone with a scrap of talent, a scrap of conscience, and a moment to set modesty aside, between these obligations and the alienating disconnect that is felt when people you’ve never met feel they have some say in your life… and you start to sense the notorious agonies of fame, which most of us are too dazzled by fame’s glamour, or bitter about our lack of it, to see. Makes me appreciate the blessings of relative obscurity.
The fact is, though, that not writing or creating anything is not what pleases me. Truth be told, I believe it pains me in ways I’ve not fully addressed. And I’ve felt able to rant a bit about the legitimate aspects of my defensiveness because I’ve just about managed to recognize the fear-ridden aspects of my defensiveness. Even resolving with gratifying self-righteousness that no, no one I’ve never met has any fucking right to say anything about what I do with my life, even if I managed this, the reality remains that I do hide away too much. I took far too long to get round to public speaking, and maybe I should do more. But while life—even a highly creative life—need not hinge on public appearances, I still hide away: from those closest to me and, even though the sense of cliché makes me wince as I type it, from myself.
This doesn’t make me too unusual. Which is a shame, because when I read the news recently, I get the distinct sense that many of the veils we hide behind, if they aren’t forsaken voluntarily with grace, may soon be torn away.
Some of us we hide away
Some of us we don’t
Some will live to love another day and some of us won’t
But we all know there is a law
And that law is love
And we all know there is a war coming
Coming from above
There is a war coming
— Nick Cave