People look at barren cities and see filth and decay, whereas artists see a blank canvas. A place where they can be and do whatever they want. Unlimited possibility—the gutter stinking much like ink stinks. A shadow to walk around in and rescue light from. It’s hard to explain to anyone else but fellow artists. But I’m going to try to.
When you have your hands firmly on whatever this is, this living as close to the gutter without dying, you are not a drug addict, a boozer, a whatever detrimental—you may be addicted to the night, and to freedom, but these are not unhealthy addictions. You are simply, at core, addicted to that place which everything comes from.
We all crave that special dark place we can go when our eyes are closed—even the most goody-two-shoes of us need eight hours a day of it. Artists just want it more, want more of it, wanting it to continue into even when our eyes are open. We want to be able to walk around in it, and know it’s real, and see its physical manifestations. Ways to die around every corner, waiting for us—but also opportunity. Interesting people that cannot and should not exist, but do. The greatest speaking voices you’ll ever hear in your life, and which will never be recorded. Brand new pornographic magazines on the newsstand, like nothing ever changed, like the internet never even happened. Like art could and will always breathe whatever breath it wants to, unencumbered by reality.
You could take a cucumber and beat a man to death with it. A nice long one, and crisp, just off the truck and placed in a crate to be sold two for a dollar. No one would bat an eye. But instead you buy it, and make a cucumber sandwich at four in the morning, and write some weird sentences—and know that they mean something. Sprung from nothing, and full of everything.
I’m not arguing for deliberately unsafe cities. I’m also not arguing against rural, or suburban, or whatever else. I am just arguing for the value of the place at all, explaining why we go there, and stay there, and never want to leave. Try not sleeping for the rest of your life. That’s what, to us, it’d be like.
Support me and my film studio, Kill The Lion Films, for as little as $2 per month.
Yeah, there is something about 2 in the morning, music still playing, no one else in the art studio, too late to walk home but a long way till dawn, that is full of possibility despite feeling exhausting and like a grind.
Shades of Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway there. Of course, it seems like most of today's frumpy mainstream "artists" have fully embraced "progressive" safety culture.