Art in a time of darkness

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marvel-dc-and-the-art-of-darkness-8I have been frustrated for a long time.

As long as I can remember, in fact.

In my youth, I listened to angry music to feel something.

In my early 20s, I rebelled against the politics of the evangelical conservatism I was raised in.

In my 30s, I was too tired to remember what I was frustrated by, but it was there underneath the surface and in the music I listened to with my headphones in the garage on Saturdays when I had a few minutes to myself.

Now I’m in my 40s, and the frustration is out in the open, where I wear it plainly. 

I don’t have a war to pin it on.

Just a long history of relative peace and prosperity that characterizes life in the United States from the late 70s through 2016.

Peace and prosperity are wonderful, especially when you are raising children and finally learning how selfish you have the capacity to be.

But peace and prosperity do not sharpen the soul, where art comes from.

I’ve wondered if I’ve just been a frustrated artist who happened to grow up in the aftermath of atrocities so great they actually caused humanity to take a short respite from barbarism.

In college I became obsessed with Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and  Bulgakov, artists whose souls were sharpened by the Iron Curtain. Artists who bled for their art, who died for their art.

Because their art served a higher purpose than even they might have understood during their lives. With the possible exception of Dostoevsky, who was a prototypical writer, somewhat given to ego and a great faith in his own talent.

I do not wish for dark times, times in which art might illuminate a path forward. And lacking any experience in such times, I’m reluctant to try and predict that evil times are ahead of us.

But I have a feeling. A deep feeling of uncertainty in what comes next.

I took a month off of social media to see how it felt to be disconnected from the large circle of people I have surrounded myself with since 2007.

It was delightful and lonely and enlightening.

I’m uninformed and have to, at times, ask my kids what is going on in the world.

I did not give up Twitter, as I am a social media professional, and that would be career suicide. But I limited the time I spent on all of the social networks. I read books. I talked to people and went on long hunting trips to beautiful places without obsessing about sharing every single moment with my networks.

And I wrote.

And I will continue to write.



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