I’ve heard it said that artists are all delusional. If they think they can make it as an artist, earn a decent living and support a family on what they make through their art alone, they must be away with the fairies. Clearly, they have no grasp on reality.
Well that might be so, but how delusional is the general population, by comparison?
Most people are blissfully ignorant about the manifold ways in which their health is assaulted on a daily basis, their environment is despoiled, threatening their very existence, they are bamboozled and cheated, the institutions they believe are there to protect them do nothing of the sort, ideas are cynically implanted in their heads which are knowingly false, for profit and that they are entrapped in a perpetual cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat. They don’t know and they don’t care. In fact, they’re defiantly proud of their ignorance. It’s a badge of honour to claim only the most superficial and trivial knowledge of genuine threats to their existence and that of their children, to condone mass choices than materially degrade the quality of life for all and to play along with games that only benefit a very small minority of humanity. We support the imminent risk of environmental catastrophe and nuclear holocaust because we refuse to face these realities and deal with them effectively.
Most insidious of all the beliefs implanted in their heads is that there is nothing they can do about it.
I’d call that delusional.
At least artists, in their delusional states, produce something of beauty. The act of creation is healing for the mind and the soul. Some artists are even aware of the threats to their existence and incorporate that message into their art. OK, that might be quite an impotent statement of defiance, but it’s not quite as delusional as sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and wearing a self-inflicted blindfold.
Pointing fingers at artists and claiming their choice to pursue their art is delusional, while arguably accurate in the current economic system, is ultimately unfair because all people are somewhat delusional. Why single out the artists? It’s the mass delusional state that perpetuates an economic system in which it becomes impossible to even exist, while doing no more harm than producing art.
If most people weren’t quite as delusional about the real and present dangers imposed on us all by the choices they have collectively made, then it wouldn’t be a delusional choice to be an artist. The fact that it is delusional to believe we can all survive as artists is an artefact of a much bigger delusion – the delusion that we must pay for the right to exist on the planet and that to earn that pay, we must fall in line with what some magical, more powerful people say we must do. Some people are deluded enough to think that it will all turn out fine, if we simply play along.
Delusional thinking is the default, for humanity. If artists can make any meaningful contribution whatsoever to life on the planet, it’s in being able to awaken as many people as possible from their mass, psychotic delusions and get them to begin imagining better outcomes.
It’s the ultimate delusion to imagine we can keep going on indefinitely, as we have been doing.