Friday

Desperate Confidence


"I'm not sentimental - I'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last - the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won't." F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise)


I've never had much of an issue with confidence about my work. I have been able to work, regardless of fortune's changing tide, because of a damn near unshakable confidence in that what I was doing was worth doing. And that I would be able to do it well.

This may sound arrogant, but it is not. I simply have not needed the approval of others to find my own hand, my own voice. To express my own thoughts and to question those very thoughts is what I've known to be the first and most critical stage of all art making. And although it may be first it continues to be required right on through. To the very last painting it goes.

The ultimate medium of any and all philosophy is the question. Some of which are: how do we see ourselves? why this and not that? and the ever present, exactly-what-the-hell-is-that? As hideously radical as it may still yet be, art is philosophical in its intent and ultimate purpose. Confidence seems to be key in being able to take seriously questions for which there may or may not be an answer. Or could be years in coming.

So why is Larch, a Bach essence, making the rounds of our house this week? Larch, taken to instill, inspire or create confidence. Why would I need this if what I've just written is true?

Because my confidence hasn't been looking like I thought it should. Because my confidence is so often desperate. When I read Fitzgerald this morning I was able to understand that desperation doesn't necessarily negate confidence. That it may be part and parcel of a certain type...a romantic type.

A panicked hysteria has seemed to be the most honest response I can find to so much of what is happening these strange days. And you know, that's ok too. Strangely enough, somewhere in this, recognition itself creates a calm. Right in the center of this storm. The very eye. A center from where I can watch. One from where I may be able to see. Myself, you, us...them. It.

That is exactly why art is worth doing. There is a door, it seems, to our very soul. One perfectly placed line can blow it off the hinge. Whatever my place in the pantheon of art may be, I'll take it. Great or small, it doesn't matter. I will not be the judge of that anyway. I don't think I'll be questioning my confidence about what it is I do. Confident? Yes. Desperate? Also, yes.

Thank you, Mr Fitzgerald, for one perfectly placed line. You have given us so many. Years removed and still thanking you.