Is it possible to be both lazy and obsessive?
Is it possible to be lazy and ambitious?
Parents, teachers and employers have in turn told me I’m lazy. I would agree with them. Unless I am totally engaged I don’t give a fuck.
However… It would surprise some of them to see me these days I think. Well… some days…
It has taken me quite a lot of years (decades even) to find my work ethic.
I didn’t know I had one!
But over the last few years, when I’m doing MY OWN work I am anything but lazy. There it is. I am self-motivated, self-obsessed and self-interested. When I’m engaged in the things that interest me I behave myself (ish); I learn; I work hard! The signs were always there: my teenage exam results read as if two distinct people sat them: A grades or ungraded. Can’t tear me away, or can’t be arsed!
So here I am, in my mid 50s… yes, I’m clinging on to the “mid” for at least another year… and I find I can’t stop working at this. This thing, whatever it is. This practice. I find I am obsessed with getting to grips with a “something”, but I don’t know what it is. In my dreams it is the thing beyond the locked door, the thing at the top of the hill I’m struggling to climb. Occasionally it is also the thing I am running away from, with my feet stuck in treacle/custard/cement… But I KNOW with a certainty it exists, and I pursue it relentlessly. I pursue it with pencil, stitch, eyes and ears and voice and hands… oh god don’t forget the hands… My friend~studio mate~colleague Sarah Goudie says that the brain is also in the fingers. This is a mote of hope for me… another mote… another mote… collect them and keep them safe. Everything could be significant… Everything… so it has to be done. If I have an idea then I must follow the line~thread~note~words…
Sometimes I can feel something between my thumb and fingers, something between and beneath the skins. I see it out of the corner of my eye. This morning I swear I could hear someone playing “Food Glorious Food” on a glockenspiel. What the fuck is that all about? This is my problem you see… is EVERYTHING significant, or is NOTHING significant?
I expect one of those dead French blokes has the answer here, if only I could be arsed to read more. Tell me if you know, and I’ll just read that bit. Add another mote for me.
I also fear that the pursuance of the motes might be seen by some to be some sort of mental health issue. I’ll keep an eye on that. And I think I have enough people around me to let me know if that’s the case. A small detour… not that I’m comparing myself to such a genius, but John Nash (in “A Beautiful Mind”) said that the maths and the madness felt like they came from the same place, so how could he know the difference?
Anyway… ambition… yes, I am ambitious but very specifically… to be in a position to continue the conversations at a high level, to keep challenging, to do the research of my own making: materially, conceptually, philosophically and in methodology. I need to make some money of course, but I’m only bothered about the amount of money that will enable this very specific ambition: to be in those places where those conversations happen. It might be about Art, but it might also be about music, education, health, science, philosophy… I might be too lazy to read it, but I want to hear about it, and think about it. I want the motes that float about in my brain to be electrified to an extent that they zoom out of my fingers into the work.