mother! – a reaction by Jason Callen


Art is the most selfish act of all, and the most consumptive.  The artist, compelled to create, consumes all around them. No one, and nothing, is safe. Nature, industry, culture, politics…all are ingested and processed in the desperate need to express that inner voice. Love too. Love is the tastiest morsel of all. With love, with a muse, the artist can transcend, reach heights once thought unattainable. Unfortunately for the muse they don’t always survive the process, as the artist is prone to discard them once they’ve served their purpose. The muse’s needs are of no concern to the artist in the midst of creation. The muse does not control its own power. The muse is activated when necessary, otherwise lying dormant. Their heart crystalized and preserved until the next desperate need strikes the artist. Sometimes the muse malfunctions, provides no fruit for consumption. These are dangerous moments for the artist, who must now distract themselves while waiting for the return of their inspiration. At these times the artist can become aware of their own selfishness, their gluttony.  This may trigger a spasm of altruism. In an attempt to balance hour upon hour of forced isolation, the artist may open themselves up, inviting people into the process and sharing with them their passion. But the artist is compulsive and often doesn’t realize when this “altruism” again becomes a part of their consumption. Soon the artist begins to feed again on those they have brought close, turning their lives into part of the work. A side effect of this is adulation. Feeling connected to the artist, the mob begins its own feeding. The artist can thrive on this adulation as much as they do the muse’s love. Sometimes it supplants it entirely. Having claimed partial ownership of the artist, the mob feels threatened by the muse. They fear its ability to return the artist to isolation. And so they destroy it, pummel it, dissect it. The artist is impotent to act. “It’s all because they love me,” he chants as his love dies and ego grows. The muse’s attempt to reignite the artist’s passion cause sparks that ultimately just burn everything to the ground. Undeterred, the artist simply changes medium. Now they work in ash.

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