No Quarter: The Urgency of Obscurity

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It always comes at the right time. You’ve just settled in a sweet latency and then it follows you throughout the day; it stares at you when you’re alone; and then it wakes you up at night. You don’t know where it’s coming from but every time it brushes against you, you feel sick and cold, ugly and defeated. You know it’s telling you the same lies; but they are lies you’ve always believed in.

It is the stirring and the fidgeting, the sweating and the stressing, the eyes that couldn’t stare, and the searching for questions you’ve answered many times before. It is you stalling. You notice it far away, like breaking glass, like dancing sirens in your head, and then you tense up like you’re falling in a dream because you know what it’s there for. Engineered solely for your weaknesses, it is both haunting and precise. You know its nature by now. It is silent and patient, lethal and brutal, and it is there to claim what remaining time you have. It’s back. And you’re going to feed it.

Doubt. Dread. Obscurity.

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This is one of our greatest fears, to totally devote yourself to something, to spend your best efforts at the expense of basic luxuries, and to give everything you have only to get nothing in return.

We’ve all done it. A film. A book. A project. A person. Something or someone that was supposed to change your life. Then what? Nothing. Barely anybody noticed. The next day comes and your shelf life is over.

Wounds can be healed, money can be earned, and resources can be replenished; but time can never be gained back. Sitting alone after the world has moved on, you begin to wonder, when will that opportunity come?

You experience high valence emotions. Your chest tighten and your eyes quicken. Thinking that you need to be fixed, you begin to exclude yourself from the world. Soon you install yourself in an “artist community.” Most of us have been there. You know the scene. The workshops. The groups. Of course there’s the good and the bad; but just like in most support groups, the subject eventually becomes you instead of what you do. As such, in the hopes of finding an answer, you instead foster your need to pander, to delight and surprise, to gain acceptance from the qualifiers within the group. In time—after acquiescing to every input, critique, and revision—your voice, which makes you unique, is drowned out. Then you start becoming just like them.

Devoid of the crippling honesty of real art and the social measuring stick of anonymous feedback, you pat each other on the back on how smart you are and how stupid the world is. You start to despise anything mainstream. You start name-dropping out of context. You reference timeless metaphors. Hidden meanings. Resplendent symbolism. You begin to look at the anima projections, recognizing itself in the deepest subtexts of one’s psychoid, the underpinnings of which are inherently revelatory. In short, you’ve become a cunty, pretentious douchebag.

Without instant gratification, it’s easy to be dissatisfied at something and quit. It’s easy to complain and do something else. After all, blame is abundant and so is support for the blame. It’s easy to escape. Porn is just a click away. Getting high, a hit away. A puff away. A pill away. It’s easy to listen to the fatalists, those who preach: “The table is tilted!” “The game is rigged!” “The system is broken!” The shrill of their voices reach the back of your head, and pretty soon their words begin to regurgitate out of your mouth.

Don’t do this! Don’t listen to the lies! Protect yourself and your ideas. Besides, what are you supposed to do, go home and quit? And suppose they’re right, are you just gonna throw everything away? Are you kidding me?

You may have nodded your head when you were little, pretending you were just like them. You may have faked diplomacy because you didn’t want to hurt anybody. But all the time you were smiling and following, you were holding a knife behind your back. You came home from school and did your thing. Your friends may have been doing something else, but you’ve always done what you’ve been doing all along regardless of what anyone has said. You can’t help it. It’s in your nature. It runs in your veins. But somewhere along your journey, you let others rule you. Perhaps it’s your urge to please. Perhaps you’re like Simba, forgetting that you are more than what you have become! But you have to realize that you are too deep in the zone to quit. You have always been a rebel, and your heart will resist even if your body surrenders.

Why fight? Fuck it. Go ahead and let them have it.

Allen Ginsberg

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3 comments

  1. All I have to say is that I love this post. I am in the middle of wondering why I keeping on pursuing what seems to be a silly dream and you’ve given me a reason to keep on going. Thank you for that.

    1. Thanks! Part of the reason why we do what we do is because of our personal expiration dates. The years will come regardless if we pursue our dreams or not. And when the time comes, I want to be able to answer, not with words, but with the things I have done. To me the journey is the juice.

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