collaborate: to work jointly with others
competition: 1) rivalry; 2) a contest between rivals
Last week, I wrote about a desire to see perspective return to the OVERALL practice of journaling, be it art/visual or written in form. In closing that post, I espoused my personal belief that 'fundamentally, ideally, there is no place for competition between art genres.' That remains my story, and I stick to it; however, I received several juicy comments in response, and they've inspired me to quantify, flesh out, my statement.
But first, Sam asked, 'I'm just wondering what happened to inspire this [last week's] piece.' One year of increasingly backlogged frustration with the growing cult-esque fascination with art journaling, and in particular, art journaling to the exclusion of THE WORDS! THE WRITTEN JOURNALING! That, and a hideous, green-monster-driven rant upon seeing an artist published, an artist who 'began' at the same time I did, an artist who is perpetuating all the art journal trends by which I'm saturated and with which I'm beyond impatient. I had a bonafide conniption fit. I still haven't worked my way through it all, though I've calmed enough to feel a large degree of shame at my arrogance, my wholesale condemnation & my major trench-mouthed tirade sprayed not only in this artist's direction but also at the publishers for being (in my esteemed opinion) so damned predictable, so commercial, and so safe.
ACK! BEYOTCH WARNING! ART JOURNAL SNOB ALERT!! -- GET THE HOOK!
Let's move right along, please, to Beth's comments, like a balm, ' ... and competition ... blech ... I hated high school because of competition and wish that word would just explode and go away.' Yes, and yes, and it may be this was also the birthplace of my repugnance for the word. I associate "competition" with locker room posturing, jock itch, toe jam, an entire MINE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS mentality. Whatever our gifts or ability levels, isn't it possible to invoke the best -- in ourselves? in others? -- minus snide asides, bully tactics and that chorus of 'Neener! Neener!'? Another's piece, poem, or presence can be full-throttle instruction on its own, without any smearing of it in my face, without any elevating of it over my own efforts. When it comes to 'better', all artists have An Eye that assesses, distinguishes, and absorbs in growing awareness as applicable to their own endeavors. Creatively speaking, I personally have no 'rivals', or at least I fervently aspire to none. I'm proud of that even though I enact it so imperfectly.
Marilyn, strong and confident as she is, writes: 'Each to their own. I couldn't exist without competition and I'm happy to be my own if need be!' I imagine Marilyn has connotations very different from my own relative to the word 'competition'. Groovy! I can learn from that, too. It seems to me, still, that she and I are on the same page. The objective, ultimately, is SELF-improvement, right? Through exposure to other work, ideas, techniques, experience, we individually can draw incrementally closer to effecting our personal vision. I do, most definitely, "compete" with myself, but it's more honest to name it collaboration -- unless I'm dueling with my own critic, pushy beastie that it is. Call it competition or call it collaboration, but the compelling difference between 'you suck' and 'hey, you really caught that aspect well' is night and day. One diminishes, one nourishes -- be it from within or without. Constructive criticism, suggestion, enlightenment? Bring it. But condescend to me and I'll deliver a resounding, "Bite me!" Fangs and pirate vocabulary free of charge, true story.
Astute & fearless Vivian queries: ' I don't know what is meant by "no place for competition among art genres.'' There is certainly room for discussion, criticism, evaluation: is that competition?' That's what I'm talking about! (Semantics -- bother!) Competition? OK - in that form. Collaboration? Sure. I want it, like that. But I think motive as a variable isn't an unreasonable measuring quantifier here. WHY am I discussing? Criticizing? Evaluating? To help someone improve? Or to flex what I may see as my own superiority? I mean, eesh, blimey, and unlimited shite: do I want to embody someone's (or my own) inner critic? NOT! Some degree of introspection, a search for possible ulterior motive, is a necessary act before I open my yap. As I earlier described, I'm not so evolved or peaced-out that I'm incapable of the dark side -- I give GOOD hissy fits! Point is: they go undelivered! In truth, I've generally found a more mindful, productive practice in waiting to be asked my opinion. Eliminates the potential for any toxins to slip by me; propagates equilibrium and creative generosity all around.
Calm and contemplative Janet offers: 'I have a quote (I forgot to write down the author): "In a world of individuals, comparison makes no sense at all."' For me, comparison is the most insidious negative connotation I have to competition. Here I am, dammit: not you, not her, not that bloke over yonder. Took me decades to learn the truth of my individuality, the truth of me, and to accept/embrace that, whether I make crap art or not. The unique qualities of you, or her, or that bloke over yonder colorize me like a fresh rain or a pure wash of gleaming light. My "self" absorbs what is presently needed, like vitamins, an injection of creative smack, an answered prayer perfectly timed and delivered. No matter what, though, the influence of others flows through my filters, utilized by me to express ME. That eventuality is a given -- I can't sustain the "wearing" of any other, the costume of comparison and trying to measure up. That price is just way too high - I'm not willing to fork it over anymore.
The tides and currents to be found intermingling with other artists and artistic genres are my inspiration forward (as Marilyn suggests), my momentum for improvement, my fuel for the journey toward perfection. But doing my best as I take each step, alone and alongside others, is how I experience perfection in the now. So you say competition (to-MAY-toe) and I say collaboration (to-mah-toe) ... so long as we're still talking and not calling the whole thing off!