Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Monsters We Have Known

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.
— Kenji Miyazawa

Welcome back, as we travel some of the darker pathways of Chapter Eight, Recovering a Sense of Strength. How have you been doing? Were you able to work with some of the challenges from last week, specifically any teachers or other authority figures who shamed your artist self when you were most vulnerable? This week, we’ll zoom in a little closer on a specific area that Julia considers to be the most at-risk for such harmful behavior: academia.

She writes, “It has been my perilous privilege over the past decade to undertake teaching forays into the groves of academia. It is my experience as a visiting artist that many academics are themselves artistic beings who are deeply frustrated by their inability to create. Skilled in intellectual discourse, distanced by that intellectual skill from their own creative urgings, they often find the creativity in their charges deeply disturbing.

“Devoted as they are to the scholarly appreciation of art, most academics find the beast intimidating when viewed first-hand. Creative-writing programs tend to be regarded with justified suspicion: those people aren’t studying creativity, they’re actually practicing it! Who knows where this could lead?”

She goes on to cite as an example a film-department chair of her acquaintance. He was a gifted filmmaker, but had “been unable or unwilling to expose himself to the rigors and disappointments of creating. Channeling his ferocious creative urges into the lives of his students, he alternately overcontrolled and undercut their best endeavors, seeking to vicariously fulfill or justify his own position on the sidelines.”

She muses, “As much as I wanted to dislike this man – and I certainly disliked his behaviors – I found myself unable to regard him without compassion. His own thwarted creativity, so luminous in his early films, had darkened to shadow first his own life, then the lives of his students. In the truest sense, he was a creative monster.”

Can you think of similar people or experiences you have known? The blocked poet who terrorizes her Lit students? The hyper-critical director who can devastate the cast with only a word or two?

The world of art and creativity can be a cruel one, and often, that cruelty comes straight from those who are not willing or able to believe in themselves as creators. This kind of poison can be ruinous to their less experienced students. Unless we are prepared and can turn it into the fuel that drives us forward.

More tomorrow.

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  • September 23, 2009, 3:40 pm denise

    ummmm, going over my past experiences with my writings, I can only say that I was lucky enough to have had teachers from elementary school up through the writing courses at college who gave me positive feedback and helpful suggestions. The one person who liked to tear my stories apart or make negative comments on my poetry? My mother.
    And to this day she'll toss out comments on how I'm wasting my talent…talent she took glee in crushing.

  • September 23, 2009, 6:16 pm freak22

    I really wish I could delve more into this topic but I can't. as a young child I had some sever emotional trauma, I don't really want to go into it, but it ended up screwing up my memory and I don't remember most of my childhood up to about the age of 13. so if someone had done something that has cause me to fear sharing my art (and i do fear to share it ) I can't remember.
    I'm not sure why I'm sharing this here but it came up in my morning pages and I felt it was important enough to say something.

  • September 23, 2009, 6:33 pm denise

    I think because this feels like a safe-spot, where we can reveal pieces of ourselves small bits at a time and know that no one here will mock or hurt us.

  • September 25, 2009, 6:44 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    ..because this feels like a safe-spot, where we can reveal pieces of ourselves small bits at a time and know that no one here will mock or hurt us.

    Thank you so much for that. That is exactly my intention, and I am so glad it feels that way to you.

    – B.