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We artists are guard dogs. Throw us a bone. We patrol the peripheries of life, of culture, of being, of soul. We sniff out the truth, then we dig, we unearth. We are your appointed seekers of subliminal syllogisms, of symbolic symbioses, of supernal signs. Our jaws may only grasp such slippery substances for a heartbeat, however, if anyone can hear that beat, it may set up a rhythm somewhere in their soul. Maybe they’ll feel like dancing.

There is no art without pain and sacrifice. It took me a long time to accept this fact. Whether you’re waiting for the muse or fighting the impenetrable density of your own skull or dueling with the demons of self-doubt, art involves struggle. Well, maybe not if you’re Leroi Neiman or you’re watercoloring peonies… well actually, peonies can be beasts too.

Often I see myself as Lewis Carroll’s Alice, in a game of croquet equipped not with a mallet but a squirming flamingo – the perfect image of my daily sense of futility at ever grasping my elusive daemon or manifesting my ideas. A day with only a page written; another crumpled worthless sketch, a poem that seems awesome at midnight but next morning makes a small noise like a croquet ball smacked into a wicket. (It’s the damn flamingo’s fault.)

And yes, your thoughts have been better expressed by geniuses. But get on with it, churl! Ingrate! You have taken up the banner of Art, and now you must strain every muscle to keep it aloft. Must prove yourself worthy. Trudge on through the muck of your own mediocrity because who knows – you might find yourself reaching some promontory and suddenly seeing the world below illuminated by an uncanny light and at that moment be struck by an epiphany about mortality! (Like, “Yes, I am going to die! So I god damned well better live NOW”). Or about our relative insignificance because “We look like fleas from this height.”)