Life Imitating Life

Self Portrait 1

"I see the play so lies that I must bare a part." Hamlet


My paintings, writing, collages, films and music all have one thing in common; they all amplify the pointlessness of existence and yet at the same time urge the artist or the viewer to cop on and really live if they are going to live.

It occurred to me recently that I may only be living, or trying to live, 'honestly' through my work.

I am playing my part in the 'real' world but whilst under the impression that everything outside the art is a 'play'.

I have not been taking part in the real world as anything other than an actor waiting for his next performance. These performances might be exhibitions I anticipate or studio time doing what I love. Evenings with alcohol allow me to blur the two somewhat and meld them together. But ultimately I am not sure 'artist' Michael is the same guy amongst real humans as he is amongst his paintings.

I have a burgeoning fear that in order to break free of these metaphysical art chains I have written about recently that I need to bring some of the deep, dark and vulnerable shit to the surface and own it, not only in the studio but in the living room, in the streets, in friendly company.

I have been seeing myself as a passenger who things happen to. Only in the studio am I close to freedom and even there I am faced with a wall which I am constantly chipping at with a will to breaking the fucker down and striding off into the as yet unseen beautiful sunset.

Perhaps I have been facing the wrong way. The canvas was never the wall. I have to turn my attention back to my physical surroundings and engage with humans more honestly, more openly.

Until I can learn to speak my mind and honour my own instincts how can I expect to succeed in the studio? How can I express alone with inanimate objects something which I don't know how to express to my nearest and dearest.

This realisation does unfortunately come with the same problem of how exactly to discover and reveal what this person actually looks like if he doesn't look and sound like me.

Am I a vulnerable pussy cat who wants to be left alone or am I a wild beast who wants to fuck and kill?

I know my Englishness can make me 'too' polite at times when a more assertive, aggressive approach might be more successful.

I am also aware that I rarely, if ever, lose my temper and shout. Something which many seem to consider unhealthy.

My instinct is to support these instincts of mine of course. Where is the harm in a calm approach to this world I am in?

Do I sometimes want to scream and cry and shout? Yes, but perspective puts me in my place and reminds me that I have very little to moan about as far as my immediate surroundings are concerned.

There are wordly issues which make me want to tear out what remains of my hair but I tend to feel disingenuous when angrilly tackling issues better suited to those with more knowledge than me on the subject. I don’t want it to appear as if I am just looking for trouble.

If I sought therapy for this I should feel a bit of a prat explaining "I am too happy and relaxed most of the time and people around me aren't a bother. What's wrong with me doc'?"

I am sitting in the park, by the river on a sunny morning in Prague writing about speaking my mind. A long haired man just this second strolled past barefoot, shoes in hand. The ground here is all pointy stones and pebbles.

"Knobhead," was my instinctive internal response.

Were I to begin truly opening up and shouting "Knobhead" at knobheads would I not, metaphorically speaking, be taking my shoes off and walking over pointy stones - to spite my face?

In this new soul searching scenario I would at least have people other than myself to engage with. Engage without pretense, without acting. But I DO know that this is all temporary and that most of these people, for various reasons, are equally trapped and unable to express themselves and honour their own instincts.

How can I be expected to engage with people honestly when communicating with most people's avatars?

Note to self - Doesn't that actually make it easier for you to be yourself when you are confronted with someone who is not being them-self?

But for now, 'they' are not my problem. I am. Or am I? Or am I I?

"You must put on your oxygen mask first before you can help others."

Now oxygen. That's real. I can start there.....and...



The 'Play' element to this blog re-emerged later this day when discussing 'opening up' more in my daily life.

My friend is a self poclaimed low-talker who wishes to start singing lessons in order to be able to raise his voice when necessary, to give him more confidence.

We spoke about how it would be good if they taught Public Speaking in schools. Help people get over the fear that they may look foolish on stage.

I began thinking that, honestly speaking, it is not really in my daily life that I hold back. I do however hold back when faced with the idea of a Public Performance or being in a real life actual play!

At the risk of sounding like I just came full circle in this blog I have in fact highlighted and acknowledged an unspoken fear. The fear that I have nothing important to say and that embarrassment will come as a result of people quickly or gradually recognising this.

I am reminded again of E.M. Cioran's beautiful quote 'There is nothing to say and that's why there will never be an end of books to write.'

Later again this night - I am watching Pygmalion and have been reminded of Galatea. Pygmalion's perfect creation. No need to have anything to 'say' I thought, 'just make something perfect.' That's all!

And as we know, there's no way I could come close to creating a perfect piece of art if I was perfect.

Poetry is conflict.

Viva conflict! Viva poetry!

Life is imitated as soon as it is put into words. But words are all I got when I talk to you.

We may come close to perfecting this reflection of the cosmos with words at times but the only way to do this is to remain resolutely bamboozled by it all.

If I never pretend to have the answers I am home free.

Self Portrait 2 - MJR


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