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The artist's tragedy 2020-12-24 21:27:54

I believe my greatest beartrap* to writing fiction has been a self identification as an artist. Even before I had completed any work or exercised a daily habit of creating I saw myself as an artist and tried to live that way.

There's nothing inherently wrong with being an artist. The role of artist provides many benefits to one's daily experience. My problem was that I had no other roles I identified with. I put all my eggs into this basket of being an artist and this caused a lot of trouble in my life. I had accepted the fact that if I went all in on this identity that I might sacrifice things in other domains such as professional and relationships, but I never expected to be ironically beartrapped in art itself.

Of course I also consider myself an authentic. I think that's the tragedy Dostoyevsky knows so well. We all consider ourselves to be special but --

I think there is something dangerous to self ascribed roles/identities. It's different when someone else describes you as XXX or YYY, it's another when you describe yourself as that without any evidence. I believe this is the artist's tragedy. The above line resonates with my experience of this tragedy. 

When I was obsessed with my identity as an artist all I thought about was being authentic and special. I began seeing the world as a filthy library phoniness. Whereever resentment filled me, because I'd either be disgusted by what I considered trite or I'd see someone gaining recognition for their originality and I would feel shame in comparison. I was obsessed with being authentic, but how can one be authentic when they decide before having the experience that they already know who they are? 

Hilariously I've observed that the pathway to authenticity is not the desire to be authentic. You got a better chance letting go of wanting to be authentic and instead committing to something you actually have conviction for. Stop worrying about yourself and how you're seen and start giving a damn*.

I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know. 
Socrates via Plato

*beartrap = https://adagia.org/post/73
*conviction = https://adagia.org/post/40

More from Abraham Kim

In Seth Godin's latest book The Practice, he has a chapter titled "Authenticity is a Trap." Here are some interesting tidbits. Some seek to find a posture of trust by using a simple approach: say what feels real to you. Share your innermost feelings, be yourself, and most of all be authentic. Not only will this lead to heartbreak, it's also impossible. There is nothing authentic about the next thing you're going to say or do or write. It's simply a calculated effort to engage with someone else, to contribute, or to cause a result. If you're using any sort of self-control, then you're not being authentic. Only a tantrum is authentic. Everything else we do with intention. If we're going to act with intention and empathy, our path is clear. The work is to make change happen. If we don't ship the work, no change will happen. If we ship the wrong work to the wrong people, no change will happen. Your audience doesn't want your authentic voice. They want your consistent voice.
2020-12-25 15:50:03
I was going to write a post just based on your tidbits on this book but I'm going to actually write it after I read it. 
2020-12-25 17:43:53