Sunday, August 06, 2006

and what will you be?

at the Fundacio Antoni Tapies i learned that the artist antoni tapies determined he would be an artist while bedridden for months with TB. tapies is a genius of contemporary art, creating pieces like that above that fuse media and texture to evoke the subconscious and feelings that cannot be expressed concretely with language (or at least that's the gist i got from a video). he also does many other types of art.

what struck me was his statement that he figured out his life career-path while reflecting and lying bedridden for months. personally, i discarded the notion that long, deep reflection could lead you to the right career-path. first, life throws way too many curveballs that are just too pertinent and can't be easily factored into long deep reflection. second, "right" doesn't seem like a label you can apply to the path you choose for your life. there are probably many "right" paths.

in high school, my sister took a test designed to determine her ideal career path. i remember her telling me that the test told her to become a stevedore, a person who loads cargo on ships. how did it conclude this? had they analyzed the preferences and lives of thousands of stevedores, along with other professions, and determined that in some high-dimensional space my sister most aligned with the stevedore profession? i've read that if you take such a test a few weeks later, chances are your job recommendation will switch dramatically. this last point seems most pertinent...

a stevedore on the job

in an old star trek: the next generation episode (yes, geek alert) some children were stolen from the enterprise by an advanced society that could not procreate (how advanced are they if they can't do that...). a computer analyzed these children and determined their ideal professions. one was told to be a musician, another a woodcutter. they were given tools that would help develop these talents. talk about a form of hard paternalism!

van gogh worked in the art business for a number of years before becoming a painter, at the encouragement of his brother theo. would he have done better been told what to do initiallyly, hence avoiding his stumbling around? on the other hand, such advice might help a lot of people who have trouble directing their energy.

but for me, i'll continue stumbling, and avoid long bouts of reflection. don't get me wrong, i think reflection is good. i certainly think i didn't do enough reflecting when i chose computer science. for instance, i forsook my writing. since university i haven't really written seriously, and i used to be a half-decent writer. maybe i'll stumble into that...

1 comment:

Eric said...

Not sure if you will read this since it's deep down, but on the comments of a "right" career path, I think you are being a bit too cynical.

Of course there are many different possible "right" career paths, but that only matters to someone who can view things from a higher dimension and understand all of them. To us meager humans, we see what's in front of us and are constantly subject to our natural emotional reactions to those items.

I read in a book (it was a Dilbert book, but a serious one) that humans make decisions first and come up with reasons later. This suggests two things 1) humans are capable of justifying anything and 2) humans don't really know what "happened" until after the fact. In other words, if we, humans, are unable to actually make an informed decision (any type of "informed" decision is simply a "correct" decision that we could easily justify and make people understand), then how can we be able to understand multiple parallel "right" paths for our life. The fact is there's no way to know that it is "right" until after you've chosen it and walked. In the face of these ideas I tend to take the belief that, when it comes to choosing the path of one's life, "fact" and "circumstance" take a back seat to resolve. That is, it does not matter so much what is happening around you as what you have decided inside you.

That said, it seems perfectly realistic to me that he managed to determine the "right" path for his life while he was bedridden. I imagine that his time in bed made him realize that the other things in his life didn't matter to him as much as his art did. Thus, it helped him make the decision to pursue art, to give up whatever else was going on and focus on himself. Once he had the resolve to pursue art, I imagine he focused on it and, just like everyone has the potential to do once they have resolved to do it, developed things that have value and contain his emotion.

At least, that's my explanation for it...

Btw, why give up writing?