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To Be a Great Artist, Be Desperate
Only the great artists have the balls to be raving, clawing, desperate animals. Because only the great artists know that desperation and…
Only the great artists have the balls to be raving, clawing, desperate animals. Because only the great artists know that desperation and pain is a necessary ingredient of greatness.
If you aren’t using desperation… then you will never be a great artist. Unless you learn how to use it.
Lemme tell you why and how you can inject it into your life.
The hardest part of any pursuit is often the most meaningful. But our bodies naturally shirk away from these things because they are not immediately pleasurable.
Obviously, too much desperation is bad. We need good habits, a support system, money coming in, etc. But everybody talks about this. In fact, I have a whole course about how you need to create habits to succeed in life.
But, nobody talks about the importance of desperation and how to inject it into your life to be creative. Being creative is being on the precipe of pain, to enter the madness and leave sane enough to come up with beauty and truth. The only way to get there, to create something beautiful and true is to allow yourself to be engulfed by the madness of desperation.
I mean…if you think about it…it was because of desperation that our human species ever got to where we are.
This is from A Book of Fookin Evolution by Pranav M:
It was a dark time for this human-monkey tribe. The predators had gotten to them. The food was scarce and this monkey-human race (and by extension our race) was on the brink of extinction. Then, one fucking monkey. One goddamn genius, an Einstein of a monkey, saved us all.
He was fucking hungry. He was fucking tired. His survival instinct was kicking in. He had no choice but to be smart you understand?
He realized something. He was never gonna be stronger than his predators. He wasn’t fast, he couldn’t outrun his predators and prey. He wasn’t tall. Even compared to the other monkeys in his tribes he was unremarkable. He would die off fast. He was a mistake. But he had something the other animals didn’t have. Desperation.
His weakness was his strength. He asked himself how the fuck can I win at a game that is unwinnable? How can I redefine the rules of this game to win to feed myself and my tribe? This genius son of bitch monkey looked at some rocks, looked at some bones, and then he created something. He created tools. He created something that would make him stronger and faster. He was able to use his desperation to create things that could outsmart evolution itself. Humans were created because of the weakest and most desperate of us. The weakest of us caused humans to succeed and be strong. It was the Davids, not the Goliath. The Davids that made us who we are today.
What is creativity? Creativity is being that monkey whose back is against that wall.
True creativity is an attempt to make something that has never been made before. It’s doing the impossible.
The hard part is you need to believe that you can do that. You need to trust yourself and believe you can achieve the impossible.
Most people never try to do anything more than what they’ve always done in the past. They try to avoid the pain of desperation, but in doing so they stop their creativity. You have to have an almost egotistical, maniacal trust in yourself. That’s how you will know that that the desperation won’t get to you, but will help you. That’s when creativity unbridled by anxiety and self doubt emerges.
Here is some narration from Weird Anthropological Musings by Pranav M
The ancients worshiped creativity as a fucking god. We deride them for it. Yet, it makes total sense. Creativity is a mystical and beautiful experience. It’s akin to giving birth because we are putting something into the world that has never existed before. And for all our brain scans, analysis, and modern day logic eventually, we must surrender to the almost Jungian idea of the mystical in art. Great art comes from nowhere. It’s desperation. A human evolutionary necessity. It turns the pain and horror of our unfortunately worthless existence into something that at least for a while is transcendentally beautiful.
Just like everything else in life, you need to practice desperation… you need to slowly inject it into your life.
The easiest way is to, of course, back yourself in a corner. When we put ourselves in impossible corners we have no choice but to… adapt,evolve ,get better (like our monkey friend).
You need to feel the desperation gnawing at you. That’s when you get good.
Treat desperation like exercise. It has to be like a daily workout. Celebrate deadlines and desperation like the ancients did as a god rather than face it with anxiety. Trust yourself.
Inject desperation into your world by finding relevant problems that you haven’t tried to or can’t immediately solve. Put your characters in weird, different, uncompromising situations. Ask questions that are more nuanced and impossible to answer than just the ordinary can this hero kill this monster. Ask questions like: Does destroying this monster risk too much of the hero’s soul? Is it worth destroying the monsters if we sacrifice people so thoroughly that madness is a sympathetic word to call their states after they’ve survived? Can you ever fully survive monsters? And what if the monsters are part of us so thoroughly ingrained in our psyche that it’s like the cancer that will always be a part of us while killing us?
Another important way of creating desperation is creating artistic environments for yourself that are boring. When you are faced with only a pen and paper weird shit happens. We are so used to going to our phones, the internet, chores, whatever to not let that desperate boredom seep into our bodies. Download freedom or some internet blocker, go to a room with only a pen and paper and then create. If you can get past the first very difficult 10 minutes, our bodies naturally start to get in touch with our more primitive, creative urges.
This creative desperation is exactly what we need to make great art. We just need to have the fortitude and resilience to be able to weather it when it hits us.
Love the desperation. Love the stuckness. Love the disappointment.
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