Suffer the masses

Voice Card  -  Volume 14  -  Larry Card Number 7  -  Tue, May 22, 1990 10:45 PM

This is ONE OF 3 responses to Vol 13 John 10 ("The value of suffering")...

I can't buy into this "artist must suffer" stuff.

Lets look at this on a number of levels.

Level 1

There is a whole lot of suffering going on out there. Therefore, shouldn't we have more artists in the world than we do now? And shouldn't we see a disproportionate share of artists coming from areas where there is more suffering?

Level 2

Well, Larry, really!!...Your level 1 explanation is much too simplistic - you're completely missing the point of the "artist must suffer" argument. The artist must experience the pain of suffering in order to, to, to ....

To what? Be artistic, creative? Is art a response to suffering? Is suicide creative? Is lashing out in anger at your fellow human artistic?

No no no. It is the suffering that allows the artist to really see what is going on underneath the surface of things. To really understand and respond in a way that reeks with this understanding.

See level 1. Why don't we have more artists in the world?

Level 3

The art causes the suffering. What do you mean by that John? Do you mean that coming face to face to your creation brings you pain and suffering? Or do others' responses to your creation bring you the pain and suffering? Or is the suffering a result of some emotional response or reaction to the art? Or am I just completely off base here? I really don't understand what you mean by the phrase "art causes suffering."

Level 4

Suzanne says that the only thing she finds that creative people have in common is that they are all "weird and quirky." Put that on your résumé and see how many job offers you get from the business world. Level 4 says that weird and quirky people have suffering brought upon them because they are weird and quirky. Perhaps it is because the general population doesn't want to see or accept weird and quirky (read creative) people in their world. Perhaps the only reason that artists suffer is because of non-acceptance by others in the world.

If you follow this like I am, then it is easy to see that artists would create great artistic works even if they didn't suffer. However, they suffer because of whatever it is that makes them creative (or weird and quirky, whatever you like).

I really don't think that an artist needs to suffer (by the way, I've never viewed suffering as romantic). It seems to me that we get back to our original question - what is creativity? An artist is an artist because of that special something called creativity. It doesn't take suffering to bring out this creativity or allow the artist to understand what is going on underneath or behind the scenes. It's aleady there and it is already understood. Any accompanying suffering doesn't change that.