Monday, March 19, 2012

Get it Out of Me

When it comes to art, Muff and I have no desire to leave our mark on the world. That's not what it's about at all. No fingerprint on the cake icing--it will melt in the sun.

It's more like, "If there's this Live stuff in me, I feel like it's my...duty? Yes, duty--to get it out."

However, most male artists we know have dreams of immortality. The marking bit and all. Is it just us, or is this genetic? Men want to spread their seed, prove their territory, make sure it is passed through the ages. Women want to just get the stupid Life out. It's gestating in there, and it needs to be born.

I recognize the inherent faults with such a simple metaphor and generalization in the context of gender and queer theory, but, it's still interesting to consider, no?


Benjo said...

No person, man or woman hopes to birth ideas stillborn from the mind. We all hope to see what we create flourish and thrive, publicly or no. The action of art itself is an attempt at expression - which is communication - and communication is meaningless if it isn't shared.

If you're saying that art is a means to an end for men - a platform upon which they can build their phallic thrones, and that women are so humble and are the ones who actually care about art, then you wound me deeply and do great injustice in your observation to both the men like Keats (who lamented that his name was writ in water and died almost completely without recognition, yet persisted in writing much of the most treasured poetry humanity has to offer) who care more deeply for their expression than its audience, and the women like Madonna who would sooner be heard than say something worthwhile.

It sounds like you're saying that anyone who cares about sharing their art is selfish and ambitious, and that those are male qualities, and even putting aside the gender theory, that seems unfair. In my mind, to share an idea is one of the most loving and selfless things you can do. We humans enjoy our position in the universe because of our willingness to share ideas with one another. To just "get the stupid Life out" sounds more to me like you think art is like taking a poop, not giving birth. To care about art is not just to give birth, it is to nurture and grow and discipline, and none of those qualities should be awarded exclusively to a gender.

AliceOutOfContext said...

OMG BEN--FINE. IT WAS JUST SOMETHING WE NOTICED. About the particular men and women in our lives. Didn't you see my disclaimer?!

But, really, you are the one who implied I seemed to find not caring if art leaves an impact is BETTER or MORE HUMBLE. I truly don't think that--nor would I ever say that is the mark of good art or not. I personally--and many women I know--just don't care about leaving a mark, and a lot of men I know do care. I mean, I wish I could feel like leaving an impression was important or that I cared enough to share ideas because I thought they were just BEAUTIFUL...because I'd probably make better stuff. But I don't. It CAN feel like a chore, and that's what I'm describing. Ultimately, the motive is nothing and the work produced is everything. SO COOL IT.

Also, I think Madonna has made great music.

Benjo said...

Hahaha, ok ok ok! You asked for thoughts, I gave them! Forewarning, I am gonna do it again, but if you don't read any of this at least read the last paragraph. :)

I wasn't trying to ignore your disclaimer, but from down here in the dirt it looked like a pretty long legged horse you were riding. I wasn't totally fair in my first two paragraphs with regards to your gender theory disclaimer, but the whole post was about gender theory and you waited until the last paragraph to try to be fair about it, so I did too! Was that nice or fair of me to do? No! I'm sorry, Alice! I like you a lot! But I used to be captain of the debate team in high school, and gender theory is a sore point for me. I've said it before (to you even) and I'll say it again - I've spent my whole life trying to prove that men can be good and I know it isn't my job and I know it's impossible because there are so many enormous asshats out there, but I do hurt when people cavalierly gloss over the cracks I've so desperately chipped from this wretched white male body of mine. I appreciate your disclaimer, but one of the male artists you know is ME.

But I do think what you said is interesting, and I'll try to more fairly respond to it. Here's what I think I hear you saying in your first post (and I'll disclaim ahead of time, I understand you're talking about basically yourself and Muff and the boys in your life, but I can't possibly talk knowledgeably about the people YOU know, so I can only fairly respond to your generalizations about them and/or everybody):

1. Most male artists hope to be immortalized in their works, which is related to their desire to put their wieners in everything.
2. Most female artists hope only that they can get the art out of themselves, which is related to their hope that they can successfully bring a baby to life.

You're probably right in a way. I wouldn't be surprised if most men do most things with the motivation of "I'm giving the world this" vs. women being more inclined to say "I've been given this to give the world". But I think you're hybridizing two more fundamental ideas about human nature.

Benjo said...

So here's a different breakdown of things (and yes, my post was too long so I had to split it into to):

1. I don't care who sees my work, I just need to get it out of me.
2. I hope that through my work I can help change the world and make it better or at least more beautiful.
3. I hope that after all the love and anguish I poured into my work, it will mean something to someone
4. I don't ever hope to reach others with my work because nobody will understand it, but it's important that it be true to my self.
5. I hope that I can use my work to become rich and famous and powerful.

I could make a bunch more, but these five cover a lot of basic motivations for why a lot of people make art, but I said "work" because I think they're a lot of the reasons that people do ANYTHING. So hopefully you'll agree that while your specific lens for viewing this is art, the subject is actually motivation.

So once again, a breakdown of your argument is:

1. Men are motivated to create art by ambition, which is a male quality.
2. Women are motivated to create art [and I can't honestly pick a specific motivation that you're countering male ambition with, but the tone of your post did imply to me (and I maybe unfairly extrapolated in my first response) that it was out of humility to art itself. ie, You are as helpless in your responsibility to bear art as you are in bearing children.]. Their motivations are female qualities.

My first argument was a roundabout way of saying that I don't think you can fairly assign motivations to genders because while we have all been socialized to accept that, motivations are not gender specific (as your Keats and Madonnas will prove).

I know I know! I'm sorry this is so long! Forgive me, for I was a philosophy major in college and I have sinned the sin of long-windedness. :(

I think you're great, Alice. I didn't mean to raise my hackles so much, but you have really strong ideas, and I like debating with you! You give me new things to think about and I only hope to return that in kind.