AW3: Recovering a Sense of Power
When the joy of stepping into your artistic power is the only reward, will it be enough?
As I write this, I have Ai on my mind. I’m supposed to be thinking ‘power’, and ‘Artist’s Way’, but I can’t. I can barely focus on even this piece of writing, this little bit of code-made-to-look-like-words, that will come from my brain and experience and voice. But maybe it’s all part of the same conversation.
If you don’t know, over the last few weeks the topic of ‘Ai’ (and I use that term lightly, because in its current form its really just a sophisticated aggregator and a pedigree chatbot), has started replacing working creators – writers, editors and artists – in the job market. Aggregating their work to ‘learn’ communication and visual styles, and then making them redundant in the value space because they’re so much faster and cheaper than humans.
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Why pay a working illustrator money when you can use Ai to generate a crazy image in a fraction of the time and at almost no cost? Why pay content creators when ‘all they’re doing’ is aggregating information – something this tool can do at super speed and, you guessed it, a fraction of the cost.
This is the way of automation and late-stage capitalism I guess, and other skills have been made redundant by this for more than a century, so what makes this any different?
I’m struggling to make sense of it. And I’m hella distracted by that, because I’m always drawn to that which questions and challenges how we make meaning in the world – how I make meaning in the world – for this one tiny, insignificant drop in the universe of time that our consciousness is alive.
Which is what brings me to why I’m here, talking about the Artist’s Way, finding meaning in it and maintaining for myself the illusion that placing it here will be meaningful for someone else. Which, in turn, brings me to week three’s topic: recovering a sense of power.
The chapter is broken into four segments – anger, synchronicity, shame, and dealing with criticism – and I can’t help but be struck at the humanity of this collection of feelings and experiences. The wild rush of anger, the burning diminishment of shame. And then, the collective: In synchronicity, people bumping up against eachother at moments that matter; in criticism, our witnessing of each other, for better or worse...
There is a reality here that I love. And maybe that’s what triggers me so much about this first burst of Ai. It feels like another nudge in a direction that takes us further away from the tangible, ourselves and each other.
All this mechanisation and automation has undoubtedly made the world a better place for us, if not our habitat or any other species. But once it’s all being done for those who can afford to use the spare time for comfort … what then? What’s the end game? When we no longer need to create for others or learn for ourselves, what will we be? Passive consumers only?
I can see the value of this tool, but when I look at it from this angle, it saddens me. Why is this the trajectory we chose? This path that dulls our senses and puts us at odds with each other, devalues and hands over, continues to disrupt the rhythm of life?
Maybe its apt that the Ai conversation is here now, in my face, while I grapple with this idea of safety, identity and power as a creator in the world.
From the start of this course, it’s become increasingly clear that my mission for this journey is to get centred, withdraw my power from the past and opinions of others, pull it back inwards, away from the distraction of fantasy and choas, so that I can finally ‘let it rip’, as Cameron says, and feel the pure power of creating, the joy of it, the satisfaction of it.
I know what this feels like and I want more. Just without all the heartache that would usually accompany it.
And maybe that’s where my heart can rest with the limitations of Ai. Because no matter how smart it becomes and what it can do or what it becomes, how it changes the face of the financial markets, the medical world, the very structures we’ve built our world on – no matter how much we hand over – it won’t stop creators creating.
The value of what artists produce may change for the world, maybe they’ll never need to do anything for anyone ever again, but the value it serves them personally, the centre of power it creates, the connection to magic and the universal, will remain constant.
And that’s pretty okay for this one brilliant flash of life I guess.
Photo by Zongnan Bao on Unsplash
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...one of my favourites too, thank you for asking so that I just re-read it.
I am addicted to fantasy - Fantasy and Sci-Fi to be exact. If I'm not scrolling through social media in my down time I am watching or reading one of the two and lately also conversing with the now infamous chat AI about the nature of life, the universe and everything else, which is a tremendously fun and compelling diversion for me.
Like overeating as an addiction, it's obviously not eating that is a problem, or even the quality of what I eat, which is good and these are all well made works of art I am immersing myself in, it is the quantity and the timing and the reason.
If I am filling every moment with magnificent "diversion", I am obviously also avoiding feeling something or other and the casualty is creativity... creating.
I am doing AW because I wish to create, no, need to create, not merely consume.
This line stands out "She stood it by standing knee deep in life and paying close attention."
Doing that is a doorway into creating for me - paying attention to...
the lace curtain moving in the breeze,
embroidered with paisley that looks like happily wafting vaginas since that time on mushrooms
my mother's minor key wind chimes
thoughts of the haunting sound and how my friend suggested that she haunts me via my dreams
and to my sweetheart, feet up on the couch
kindly and wisely listening to the verboten pop on headphones
Yes yes yes, I love this and what follows:
"From the start of this course, it’s become increasingly clear that my mission for this journey is to get centred, withdraw my power from the past and opinions of others, pull it back inwards, away from the distraction of fantasy and choas, so that I can finally ‘let it rip’, as Cameron says, and feel the pure power of creating, the joy of it, the satisfaction of it." ...
It feels pivotal, like a place of power. Yee haaa on the Literary Festival, Tanya!
I have also felt swallowed by the new year and haven't been consistent with the pages, but I am still at it in a broader sense. I am having richer dreams, richer conversations with my inner child who turns out, is really happy. I have become a good parent.
Something I did notice is that I don't enjoy the feeling of vomiting all my obsessive fear loop thoughts onto the page at the start of the day... it makes for a shitty tone for the rest of the day. What feels good and inspires me to be most creative is gratitude as twee as that sounds... paragraphs of gratitude for the fur on my cat's stomach, the wealth of leaves in my garden, the fruitful efforts of my youngrr self.
I have had two artist's dates - one to a haven set up purely for cats where you can just go and hang out with them, and the other a visit to one of my favourite artworks ... a beach sculpture made by everyone and no-one on the far west side of strand beach and a swim in the sea.