The Guilt Of Enjoyment

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The Guilt Of

For any philosophising individual (and if you are not, start now), there comes a point whereby you question the conflicting ideals of consumption and freedom (from avarice).

You need to consume to be enriched, and therefore to be free, while not overdoing it to avoid being consumed by materialism. We aren't referring to the consumerist audience of course -- they are fundamentally screwed but rather, to the creative one -- those for whom consumption actually does lead to further creation.

The Film-maker gets inspired from paying \$10 to see a film (if there are \$10 film tickets anymore). The Dancer sees new patterns with good theatrical view provided by \$300 seat. The Marketer learns new trends through a \$1,000 conference ticket. The Graphic designer brings paintings to life with a \$3000 pen-tablet. The Programmer gets more productive with a \$5000 laptop. The Guitarist invents new sounds with a \$10,000 amplifier. etc...

In other words, for the creative, there is almost no upper bound to the relationship between their tools and their creative output. That of course, assumes that they know the limits of their tools, and know how to push those limits (novices tend to think that tools define the artist, while experts know that the artist wields the tools).

But we find that our lives and expectations are entwined with our work (this is one freedom I will gladly give up), and the creative has an inexplicable urge to impose those high expectations upon everyday events. More often than not, this comes in the spotting of objective flaws. eg: The security expert sees all the ways that the Bank can cheat you of money. The architect sees how the building is not built to withstand winds in excess of 100 km/hr. The Designer sees the jarring break of flow caused by sharp button borders...

Where it bleeds over to consumption is in the constant second-guessing of the efficacy of consumption. Any great artist knows how to say "Enough!". More important, they know how to say it prematurely -- before anyone else sees it. For some strange reason, the same attitude afflicts them when it comes to something as simple as choosing what to eat for dinner (this generalises to anything that the artist cares about). "How does this food nourish me and provide me with more vigour?" is the question on their mind, when really, the shallow response is correct ("Eat and be Merry!").

There is this tension between the abstract immaterialism of their creation, and the concrete everyday consumption required to sustain them physically. For some this tension leads to Guilt, for others, it may lead to anxiety, or even anger, but the tension is there nonetheless.

Sadly, we don't have a good word to describe this in English, and that which cannot be adequately articulated cannot be adequately discussed and propagated. It is of course, hampered by the fact that to discuss this, the artist needs to talk about their private creative process and the (possibly sensitive) real-life, boring events that surround it -- something very hard to ask for, especially given the mercurial nature of the creative process itself.

The good news is that having battled with the tension, we can now experience reality at a different level. The distinctions between the realms of the material (provided by external consumption) and immaterial (provided by internal meditation) precisely give rise to the meshed experience that forms at its fulcrum, perfectly in balance.

That is the point when we accept consumption -- when we know that a glass of wine is indeed as good as we can make it to be. And then we can accept the objectivity of the experience, and succumb willingly to shallowness -- we have nothing left to lose.

All that, for a good swish of fine red.


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