it’s been a night of shame. not a shameful night. you see, there’s a big difference. i am talking about the kind of shame one feels immediately in the presence, or even in the virtual presence, of someone who precipitates shame in another, completely unbeknownst to the shame precipitator. it’s not their fault. it’s not your fault that you happen to be related to them. but still, shame somehow surfaces.
after speaking to this relative, i happened to read a column in the NY Times on this very subject.
… there are basically two categories of emotions. There are core emotions, like anger, joy and sadness, which when experienced viscerally lead to a sense of relief and clarity (even if they are initially unpleasant). And there are inhibitory emotions, like shame, guilt and anxiety, which serve to block you from experiencing core emotions.
Not all inhibition is bad, of course. But in the case of chronic shame, the child’s emotional expression becomes impaired. Children with too much shame grow up to be adults who can no longer sense their inner experiences. They learn not to feel, and they lose the ability to use their emotions as a compass for living. Somehow they need to recover themselves.
And I thought about art. Or my art. Or the making of my art. Specifically my most recent performance. I don’t think I had considered art making as an escape. It’s the opposite of an escape. It’s an opening up. Not a folding back in. But this time it felt like I was escaping something. I could not put my finger on it. And then I realized that art making has been an escape for me. Maybe escape is the wrong word. I’m sorry I misspoke. But I am not ashamed for misspeaking. I am proud of it. At least I have something to misspeak about.
What was I saying? Oh.. all I really wanted to say is that i think of art as a kind of idealization of the impression one wants to make upon this planet while one is still here to make one. And that happens to intersect with a transcendence of one’s own inhibitions that sometimes but rarely occurs in the world that is not art. And I am all for transcendence.