Streams of self-consciousness

Things fall by the wayside. Interests, projects, passions, friends, family: try to juggle too much and eventually, you start dropping the balls.

“Muslim or Christian, Mullah or Pope,
Preacher or poet, who was it wrote:
Give any one species too much rope
And they’ll fuck it up?”

Standing in the arena in Georgia, watching a concert that has been meticulously planned and timed so that the live music matches perfectly in synch with the video displayed behind the band, it’s easy to forget why you have any hope for your fellow person. Any views that run against yours are verboten and met with anger and perhaps even a touch of arrogance. How dare anyone think differently than me?

And you think all this as you watch two girls, maybe adolescents when the last major release by the artist on stage hit shelves, dance to classic rock while images of death and sorrow flash on the screen, thinking to yourself, “What a bunch of fucking morons.”

The hypocrisy is not lost, believe me.

What if more of life was like that show, managed and controlled from first beat to last? Would we be any happier? Would that make everything okay, easier to deal with on a daily basis? Increasing the amount of control you have over your show, though, decreases by necessity the amount of spontaneity, of surprise, of the unexpected — and maybe, hand in hand, of passion? Of course, a good showman works the fire into their act, no matter how tightly scripted. so that there is, at least to the audience, the illusion of intensity at the right moments.

Every roller coaster, no matter how exciting, is still built to run the same course time and time again.

And of course, in the world of art (at least where it intersects with the world of commerce), it is the audient that is most important. At $125 a ticket, the fan should get the feeling of chills in his blood before the artist. Ideally, sure, both artist and audient become immersed, but if one must sacrifice that feeling… well, one must eat, yes?

But life isn’t about producing commercial matter. Not for some of us, at least — as much as we may crave the attention and approval of family, friends, peers, the random passer-by, we still consider ourselves the ultimate judge of what we create, of what we will one day leave behind.

When audience and artist are the same, how do you strike a balance between controlled performance and emotional display? How much illusion do you create, and how much do you allow yourself to believe blindly?

It all seems to come back to balance in the end, to finding the tipping point and stepping back to the middle quickly enough that you don’t upset the scales. Refocusing on the center takes too much time, and is an imperfect art to boot.

What’s important? What’s real?

There are no correct answers without context, and only a lucky few have any consistency to their surroundings without setting the cruise control and settling in for the safe ride.

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