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I am an Artist

All my life, I have never really understood myself.

I mean, of course, I’m me.  I know what is inside my head in a way no one else does – not even me, sometimes.  I have a very complex inner world, and it’s so real and vibrant inside of me that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get what is inside my head out for other people to see.

But, I’ve come to realize, that’s pretty much what an artist is.

The thing that has lead to a great deal of conflict and doubt within me, though, is that at first glance I don’t seem to be an artist.  I have a very logical and rational mind, not really given to flights of fancy.  Heck, I’ve built my career and in some ways my very identity on my ability to be logical and rational, and to translate that into things like code and other similar types of projects.

But I’m still an artist.

What is inside my head, very often, does not exist in the real world in a very concrete way.  There are images that I may or may not remember, songs that I haven’t written, poems that I haven’t written, stories that I haven’t written.  All sorts of things in my head that have to get out.  I don’t mean that it would be nice if I could express them, I mean I absolutely need to express them for my own sanity.

That’s why I am writing Lily.  That’s why I blog, and sometimes start other blogging projects that seem like a great idea at the time but turn out to be an awful idea (see Texihabara).

Oh, speaking of Texihabara – that’s why it failed.  It wasn’t art.  It was, at best, commenting on the art of others, and at worst pure pandering to a community that only consumes art and never really produces.  It came out of a place of more…  well, something akin to greed, I suppose, than any kind of passion or respect, and that kind of thing shows.  I even knew it at the time.  But it wasn’t something I needed to get out, so it floundered and failed.  That’s also why my “amime life” blog is currently floundering – again, I’m writing about stuff other people wrote, and while it impacted me a lot, I just can’t seem to build a product off of stuff other people do.  I just get bored and feel like it’s useless.

Everything I’ve ever done has been an attempt at art of some kind, and often a failed one.

Paradoxically, this is why I’m so good at coding.  You wouldn’t think these things are related, but they are.  Coding, to me, has always been something of art – where I write something not just for the fact that it has an end product that I like, but the code itself is art.  It’s no coincidence that the languages I love the most are also the ones where it’s particularly difficult to write awful spaghetti code.  I very much dislike python and ruby, but I love C++, and that’s why.  Classes, when implemented properly, are beautiful.  Functions aren’t.  And it’s also why I absolutely hate systemd.  It’s a halfassed, minimally functional project that is ugly as sin, where the way that unix used to be put together was far more beautiful, and I hate it.

But I have to pursue art.

The thing is, I didn’t realize that until today.  I took a look inside myself and realized that the worlds inside me have little to do with the worlds outside me, and I don’t even know where those worlds come from half the time.  Anything I produce is really only a dark glimmer of the intensity of what lives and broils around inside my head, but even that has to get out.  It has to.  I can’t live with myself if it doesn’t, and I’ve never been able to.

Wanna know something else?

I’m a classically trained pianist.  I’m pretty good at it.  And while I’ve learned a lot about how to make music actually beautiful lately, it’s become amazingly boring.  Because, say what you will about how stupid music like j-pop is, it’s got such interesting harmonies and timbres that you just can’t find in straight piano music.  You can do so much with timbre that piano just completely (and mostly by necessity) absolutely ignores.

It’s all about how what’s in my head can come out.

Maybe it’s time I start doing stuff with that.  It’s the only way I’ve ever managed to be truly productive.

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