I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work… I want to achieve it through not dying.
– Woody Allen
Why do we create?
Does it drive us? Does it quench our thirst for adventure? Does it feed our desire to feel and express? Does it help in emotional recovery and act as a calming tool? Of course it does. It can be as simple and profound as that.
However, for those of us who have been creating for a long time, ceaselessly, seriously, the art we create may call for attention. Eventually, the hard work [for professional artists, writers etc.] wants to be acknowledged, noticed, appreciated, even praised.
Art, for many, comes with reassurance that they’re worthy of appreciation. It can begin with a single uplifting remark dismissing your momentary doubt. It turns into a yearning to feel that moment of giddiness, knowing you can move someone through your work. To discover that many people, beyond obliged family, social circle, and even strangers, can be moved would be reassurance that your work was significant, meritful and strong enough to make a difference.
And if it doesn’t stop there. The desire to leave a mark on the world thrives evermore. We may realize that that the intention is not just to make a difference – not just that you want to be remembered for that change, but that maybe.. you want to be remembered.
Some may have chosen not to think about death, while some choose to embrace it for its inevitability. Some have chosen to defy it – by creating. In Ernest Becker’s ‘The Denial of Death’, he idealizes the ‘creative solution’ wherein we cope with the thought of death both subconsciously and consciously through the arts.
If we can’t live forever, we will strive to create because even if our physical bodies can no longer exist, at least our imagination will.
From the vast number of sketches and paintings hanging on museum walls, to the idolised poetry and prose written, the curious number of musical and film productions, we strive to create as much as we can, and influence as much as we can.
Are we convinced that if we do, eventually one of those many will make a mark?
Van Gogh made 900 paintings and 1100 drawings; Charles Dickens wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories; and Michael Jackson has made 217 songs as a solo artist.
Is it because we hold on to the idea that those are the ones that survive over time? Is the art we make death defying? Is it death denying? It carries a piece of who we are, and thereby if it survives then we survive -not in flesh, but in what we stood for.
Our stories are then passed down, from generation to generation, in textbooks and classroom lectures. Is that why we create? Even if our paintings lie in a dusty corner of the house attic, are they a presence people cannot avoid? By looking at your work on a wall long after you’re gone, does it communicate a piece of your soul?
Our work lives on as immortal while we, mere mortals, hope it never dies. Is art, in a sense, death defying to you?
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.
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