Most often, the anxiety aroused by the summons to a larger life is more than we can bear.
James Hollis, “Creating a Life”, p. 49
I have started a new series of paintings with the working title “ The Disagreeables”. For a long time I have tried to override my own inclination towards agreeableness when painting, but it’s hard. Hard not to please my own eyes, hard to go let raw & unmediated expressions take centre stage, hard to be assertive …
To be honest, I suspect I’m too comfortable with being agreeable to get in touch with my own shadow. But what’s the point of agreeable art?! It’s a bit like muzak, isn’t it?
Still reading the Jungians
And so, to escape comfort, I go back to the Jungians for some guidance –
Individuation, according to Jung, means to show up and contribute our small part to the big picture. From afar, that sounds reasonable, even doable, but in practice we all are intimidated by what individuation actually asks of us. Our well-being once depended on our fitting in, being adaptable, agreeable, accommodating. Individuation asks that we actually serve a separate summons to be different.
We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves. ~
James Hollis, “What Matters Most”, p. xiii
It probably doesn’t sound too smart but I’m actually trying to listen in to what my hidden self has to say … not to make a nicer, but a more truthful kind of art …
Surely the only measure by which we can judge ourselves in the end, or be judged by others, is the degree to which we have heard and responded to the imperative to become ourselves in the face of what would hold us back.
James Hollis: “Tracking the Gods”, p. 73
5 Comments Add yours
Yes yes, always a struggle. Keep at it and be surprised!
It’s very hard to go against the conditioning that has been such a powerful part of our lives, but it’s worthwhile. Thanks for showing the work.
Yes, it’s a good challenge for the second part of life …
The thing about individuation is that you don’t have to strive for it. You are already an individual. Individuation is a natural process and an inevitable one for human beings. Even just your handwriting is so individual that police departments can use handwriting samples as forensic evidence. The striving part usually has more to do with efforts (conscious or subconscious) to meet what seem like external expectations — such as fitting in with a contemporary idea of what art is supposed to be, do or look like. Pleasing your own eyes is a form of individuation. When you are pleasing your own eyes you are discovering what you care about. If you follow that process in a thorough way, how are you not going to produce something personal and therefore unique?