The Procrastinating Artist: On Ego, Muse and Self-Deception
I always enjoyed watching interviews of my favourite artists. I came to understand their process, the way they work.
Viewing these interviews from a young age and impressionable eyes, I always admired how all artists were excited to showcase and discuss their work.
As I watched more, one concept had always captured my mind. That concept was known as the Muse.
I’ve contemplated whether or not it is exists. Other terms used for it is infinite intelligence, source, or seeing the brain as a radio tuner that can perceive and interpret messages from messages beyond, from the ether.
I jumped at the notion of an idea-giving external mind where I can take when I needed.
However, once I processed it I felt differently.
There is a culture that has permeated the artistic community. This culture is a form of humbleness which has been thwarted by belief of a Muse, it is a development from attaching oneself to a more ethereal form of accepting and producing something creative.
This culture permeates, whether the artist is conscious of his belief of the muse, whether it truly exists as a vehicle for humans.
The Muse has become an armor, it is a form of ego protection, hosted by artists that impede and can be detrimental tool for procrastination and self-deception.
This deception, procrastination and ego-protection, we will find, is not only for ourselves, but also is in the artistic mind frame of their audiences.
Ego-protection is a mechanism artists use and it is derived from a kind of expression of the muse.
“What a web we weave when we tangle to deceive!”
The mind is tricky. Easily deceived. When we create a piece of art, a painting, sculpture, piece of music, we believe our thoughts so emphatically, without a trail of reason or doubt sometimes.
When an artist is divided in thought, he can not see himself as he should be.
Which is ideally, impartial, seeing oneself as a separate individual entity and ultimately collapsing fragments of oneself, our lives, our beliefs, culture, patterns of living.
But these ideas are arguably from random they are arbitrary in a grand scheme of concepts, one can lose themselves in abstraction with the circumstance before our faces.
When you begin to challenge your thoughts objectively and heavily self-examine, you won’t be susceptible to the following tricks of the mind, psychological distortions and mechanisms put forth by adopting a Muse.
The muse as a psychological mechanism
If an artist arrives at a piece of work, that is commended and admired, at times, they cite a muse, God, infinite intelligence. This is a psychological mechanism.
Let me explain, through an outer, external influence an artist can be made to appear as humble, whether intentional or not. However, this form of thought is merely an attached feeling of artists, dissected completely, it seems as though it is a form of ego protection.
An ego-protection that can be interpreted two-fold.
Firstly, claiming an external muse we (or the artist) protects their own ego, while also, protecting the ego from the non-artist, the critic and critiques.
For an artist to cite a muse in aiding him, whether conscious or unconsciously believing so, the artist has debased their inner-power. Seemingly, remaining humble while also cancelling himself out of the final artistic equation.
Through my observation, removing yourself from your work, remaining unattached can have its merits. I believe that a hierarchy is necessary to increase the levels of standards overall, but that is a topic for another time.
However, when the artist cites the muse to draw attention away from himself, personal artistic responsibility and away from his work, he is exempting himself and his work from criticism in a way.
Thus his ego may be protected. I am transparent when it comes to using ego-protection as a mechanism entirely, for there can be good and bad stemming from organizing an artist’s thinking and thoughts produced with something outside oneself.
I feel this comes into play the most with pretentious modern art and it’s artists.
If you are an artist, you probably can identify situations where a contemporary has aligned themselves with a muse for better or worse.
We can come to an understanding as to why consciously or unconsciously an artist would believe in a muse. There is usually underlying reason.
Moving on, we’ll suggest why an artist would favour the muse and allegedly receiving divine signals of an external source.
In which case, ego-protection mechanisms are attached to the idealization of a higher entity, they will state this claim while consciously or unconsciously constructing tales of fantasy. Of which, can be explored and interpreted.
Artists often parrot other artists about the muse.
The artist is subconsciously emulating other artists or people. Influence has a trickle down effect, for good or bad.
People have tendencies to pick up mannerisms and even insecurities, ego-protection mechanisms of other artists that have come before him, perhaps one that is admired. This is a trap.
You can bounce good ideas off other artists, but the negative aspects should never be extracted.
There is a great danger in emulating poor habits and traits of other people. Unfortunately, it is far too common.
Secondly, consciously or unconsciously, the artist has clothed a veil over their audience.
The audience admiring the work of the artist may interpret it and say: “How does he connect with such a creative higher power (The Muse)?”
Or if the artist calls upon his muse, the audience may develop a feeling of discomfort, acquiring an inferiority complex.
But it is more suitable to gather inspiration from your impressions and influences. Feeding your mind the right mixture will ameliorate one’s personal development. Thus, the artist can protect the ego of his audience if the artist calls upon his muse claiming,
“It was not of my doing, I am only a vessel” or something similar.
The artist is not only downplaying his ability but downplaying the final product in this regard.
It could be for a myriad of reasons but I find this statement ubiquitous with artists and by doing so they also serve a leveling of themselves against the audiences.
The level of consciousness will be the arbiter of the way ego protection exists for the artist and public.
Ego-protection is one aspect of proclaiming help from the old muse. Another aspect of ego-protection submitted by the muse is procrastination.
All the world’s a stage, and men are merely players.
Time is no one’s servant. Yet artists lather themselves in the idea of a muse as if it will come save in the time of anorexic creativity and thought.
Procrastination, the P word, a thing of beauty, and of vast magnitude, many artists align themselves with it more with the muse and creative work suffers its designed fate.
The Muse would be ashamed. Procrastination is ego-protection, self-delusion. Never getting anything done, waiting for something to strike you, a lightning bolt of genius perhaps?
“ I wasn’t feeling it.,”
“My muse didn’t come over and massage my temples to get my ideas rolling last night” etc.
These kinds of “artists” make me question their integrity. You can save yourself from failure, it’s not your fault – wrong!
This is why I do not conform to this outlook of the muse. If an artist procrastinates like this they won’t accomplish much. Time is a savage beast in the lagoon, sinking bodies from their creative dreams.
I implore artists to consider and assess the problem of procrastination in itself and using a muse as a source for its beginnings.
Procrastination is really troublesome and it’s diffused in many ways, today we uncover it from the concept of the muse.
In my experience I found that creativity can be forced, consider it as a muscle and it can be developed, to the disbelief of the ever expanding group of naysayers.
You can force creativity, paradoxically, from removing yourself from your work entirely, letting it flow.
Concepts that are often found in Zen Buddhism, are practitioners of exactly what I refer to, it would benefit you to study their concepts.
Artists must not delude themselves. But by highlighting your own path you can forge into new territory, while keeping your ego intact, with no actual earnest position or consent of a Muse.
If you fall along the trail of self-deception.
Waiting for the muse, the moment to intercept the pool of creative imagination, artists deceive themselves with the muse, using it for ego-protection or passively diddling away, expecting a paper to initiate itself from the Bardo.
Most external influences upon the artist is steady lies about, themselves not solely from manipulating their experience but for minimizing pain and increasing pleasure and security.
So much of life is about minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure, and even sometimes we try to eliminate pain and discomfort while unconsciously creating more problems, take a moment to reflect on that in your own experience or a person you are related with.
Moving forward, I have a proposition for artists on relaying ideas of the muse and similar motifs.
Do not sell yourself out.
It is fitting for a person that wants a basket of delights labelled easy, with “light” on the packaging and beside it is package labelled “hard”.
It’s not easy to call all the BS out from yourself underneath.
But you can become more dependent on yourself, your ego will strengthen in the face of honest, authentic feedback and criticism. Avoidance is hindrance.
By exercising an elimination of the external subscript; “My muse is not here,” etc., You accept a new responsibility for whatever you wish to accomplish. This is a way of thinking that can flow through not only artistic life, but everyday life.
Personal responsibility is a good source of inspiration and you will gain a keen sense of realism and finitude which should accelerate your creativity and productivity.
That is the main course I would love to do away with, artists losing their sense of self and personal responsibility to their own work.
When the onus is all on you, you may feel a sense of liberation and or struggle.
To me the muse is fabricated from imagination. It is a buffer.
Now, imagine that, artists using their imagination to procrastinate, among other things.
Imagination to imagine an accomplishment, rather than using the imagination for something productive rather than having a talk marathon.
Visualizing is one thing. If it’s a question of humbleness, the artist should realize their sacrifice. When a successful artist gets it right, time energy, focus, moments of despair, criticism, etc. “Against all odds”
The success of an artist shows that he has skill, he honed his craft and efforts.
They were not in vain or deluded by an external concept being the babysitters to their imagination.
As an artist can still remain humble without it, so long as they enlighten other artists to realize their potential, self-actualize and not self-deceive.
As creators and artists, we create ourselves.
The artist must not get derailed and procrastinate and resist when they know they should be creating.
I would say for remaining humble, be grateful for the capacity to achieve all of what you have.
You can decide for your self if there’s a creative space to receive downloads from the infinite or not. No one knows all the answers.
If it exists, then be grateful for the help.
If not, you will know it is your hard work, but you must move and gain from momentum and not resist when it is all against you.