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Michael K Laidlaw About 1 507 words



Michael Kamakana

I have never wanted to be stereotypically difficult fragile artist. I have never wanted this but if my biography is to be believed, this is exactly what I have been, at least since early adolescence, when I first determined to be otherwise. I have been fragile, I have been perhaps no more than usually self-absorbed adolescent, but always am convinced I am uniquely so, unusually so, and have no models, no close family, to which I can compare. I suffer no abuse physical or emotional, no family dysfunction, indeed I am convinced it is me that is wrong. I have loving mother and father and brother. My brother is apparently untroubled by artistic urges, my father decides my problems are just those artistic urges and he can do no more about them than he had with his artistic sisters, my mother decides my intellectual and artistic problems and urges are from my father’s side of the family so willingly does not understand. I refuse the idea suffering brings great art because it seems dramatic and subject to confirmation bias, that is, art borne of suffering is remembered but not all suffering is remembered as art. And I refuse the idea that the family in which an artist is born is destroyed, for similar reasons. I neither want to suffer nor destroy.


I have never wanted to be stereotypically difficult fragile artist. I recall once or twice or more in adolescence, bad dreams that wake me and drive me to my parents for comfort. I do not see psychotherapist or other professional, as otherwise my behaviour seems healthy, I do well in school, academically and socially, I make both TV trivia team, something like Jeopardy!, and the basketball teanm, I do not act out through adventures in drugs or alcohol or violence. I am different that I pass my free time drawing and reading and writing, but these do not render me asocial or fragile or lonely. I like to be alone.


I have never wanted to be stereotypically difficult fragile artist. So when do I become fragile, or are there ever clear moments before and after, are there ever breaks on the spectrum, are there ever points where tendency towards become manifestation of fragility. And of course in existential thought I would claim this as choice, but in experience decision to be artist does not seem choice but vocation, seem something that I must do to be I. And what does it mean to be fragile, or is that just my style of being an artist and nothing essential to art. For there are as many ways to be an artist as there are artists of any sort. I remember, I ruminate, I build on my memories. I focus on the past, when clearly nothing can be done to alter the fact, and that I alter the meaning is no more than what all humans do, all the time, all memories shared or individual. I remember very young I try to draw a mountain landscape card, for my mother’s birthday, and my brother promises five nights of dishwashing on the other side. I remember the artistic projects my father tries to help me with, first map of my mother’s home island that we fashion into wooden hot plate, with rivers, mountain, cliffs and towns marked, which is either for her birthday or mothers day. I remember a light box with glass surface over which I can trace images, when I am ten or eleven, and my later fascination with posters filled in with felt colours, though I am not doing freehand drawing or models or anything but images in my head. My father’s younger sister is at this time painting and tries to help me with techniques of shading to create volume and depth, but I am drawing what I think and not what I see. I draw car designs and spaceships. I am more interested in line than volume, in colour than shading, though I do not have great interest in creating patterns.


I have never wanted to be stereotypically difficult fragile artist. And when I am young my srtistic tendencies appear entirely positive, even as none of my immediate family can claim to understand, for with my father’s sisters as models of what it is to be an artist, the only thing my father worries about for me is how I will make reasonable living, as I have grown up comfortably and seem not aware of the likely poverty entailed. I even help with design of our new house at Bearspaw, if no more than enthusiastically approving blueprints and increased scale. I could become Architect like my mother’s father, though aside from their beachfront house I know only of small stadium designed and he is perhaps more civil engineer. I could become Architect and so my interest I buildings begins at this age, with the idea I could support myself and family and have time to write after this, but I only make desultory moves to enable this. And then I decide without deciding that I should just concentrate on writing, that as writer I will design my own house if no more, but as Architect I will not even write one book. I have no alternative plan. I do an exam for Occupations, early in Secondary, but this merely confirms I have no interest in the sciences, in math, in industry or agriculture, and an overwhelming obsesson with the arts. Any arts, though it is not clear to me how I can enter into this field, that everyone knows nothing, that everyone knows only that they know nothing, that I know, despite advice from my father’s sisters, I know nothing. For as mentioned there are as many ways to be artist as there are artists, as many ways to write a work or paint of print or draw or sculpt, as the medium affords possibilities. I am alone. Indeed as my adolescence progresses this is when I tend towards fragile.


I have never wanted to be stereotypically difficult fragile artist. I must break this down poetically, that is, word by word, starting with I, who is myself of course but perhaps as seen from outside, seen as unified, coherent person. This is not the self most familiar to me, closest to me, who is necessarily turbulence and changing and far from stable. I is growing and changing as any adolescent, and there is only constant of change, over constant of fascination with arts, though I do not know if I am interested in the process, the doing, or the title, the being, the identity resolved as an artist. I know only I draw all the time. I draw ideas and not landscapes or the natural world, the real world, the world outside my thoughts, but this does not mean I am independent of influences, rather that these influences are mediated work from movies and television, mostly my interpretations of science fiction images. I am in some sense varied summation of all these images and influences. That I have never introduces the concept of time, the persistence of I, of my being, and when I say never that is actually reflection after the fact, for there is my childhood when obviously I wanted to be an artist but was ignorant of what psychological cost thst meant, had no idea this might be fragility. And can I truly say never, are there moments, at any age, when I wuld willingly suffer or be fragile if this promised art, in dramatization either self or other, that disrupts the claim of total negation in time. Stereotypically difficult fragile artist may in fact only be my personal interpretation of the psychological status of many artists, of enough to call stereotypically, for difficult and fragile are not necesssarily bound together. There may be artists who are easy and robust, for whom the process of creation is joy and generous, or artists difficult and strong, or artists gentle and fragile, or any of these combinations. I do not know. And the final word artist is itself problem, for who proclaims this being, who passes definitive judgement, who can say I am an artist, here and now, there and ever, beyond myself convinced validity of this descriptor at given moment. It is possible to be craftsman rather than sculptor, journalist rather than author, illustrator rather than visual artist, to do anything involving some creative skills but not so much to be an artist.


I have never wanted to be stereotypically difficult fragile artist. I claim my work is art. I know it is not the usual show not tell, as writers are encouraged, in fact is more essays than narratives of any length or sort, novel or novella or short story or poem. I can suggest this is philosophical poetry, but it is up to the reader to decide if it succeeds in either genre.

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