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Starving Art

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It amuses me that the last article on this site was on “Dedication”… posted immediately prior to a two-month hiatus in the production of this site.

In that article I challenged David Mamet’s view that only the starving can create art – that the comfortable have crutches to lean on which prevent them from taking the steps to excel. No, I argued, the key to creating art is dedication to the task – achieving a level of focus that enables one to put other tasks aside and complete what really matters.

But it has become clear to me in the intervening months the wisdom in Mamet’s words. I have seen all too many people fail at things they cherished because they were too comfortable. With a nourishing job at hand, I have seen myself and others drawn off by sparkling distractions, curling up with our comfortable movies and plays and dances and parties while the things that we can achieve – and tell each other and ourselves that we want to achieve we want to achieve – fritter away further and further into the distance.

It is as true for professionals as it is for amateurs. Case in point: the world of comics. Three of my favorite comic books – Albedo AnthropomorphicsThe Authority and Planetarywere canceled, or hang on the edge of being canceled, because their creators could keep a schedule. Now, I know some of the reasons behind the delays; and sometimes they are good ones. But in the end, delay after delay in any enterprise leaves fans feeling lost, participants feeling betrayed, and ultimately all concerned must move on to new devices when their interest finally dies.

So perhaps it is true that it is not necessary to be starving to produce great art. But if the author or artist is not so hungry for their art that they are willing to put it above all else, their art will starve, and we are all left poorer by it.

– The Centaur