Xoterica 35: The (Great Good) Talent Show

Artemis Sere Xoterica 35 The Great Good Talent Show

“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. Yet it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities but its own talents as well.” (Bruce Lee)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by people I love and respect that I’m talented.

During my job search over the last year, it has become a common descriptor for me. I’m humbled to be considered talented and truly am thankful for such a gracious compliment, but I’ve discovered that talent really doesn’t guarantee anything but madness.

People tell me “not to worry, it’ll work out” during my troubled times, shake their head in wonder at my struggle, but most of these people have never truly lived on the edge of the cliff, tip-toed on the border of oblivion. In less poetic terms, they’ve never had to fight to survive, never had to pick themselves up after multiple tragic falls, never had to rebuild stability. Over and over again.

Talented humans shouldn’t have to fight to survive. It’s a real tragedy of the human condition that we appreciate celebrity more than talent. A celebrity doesn’t need talent to survive, just a pleasing frame or persona or angle.

Like unrequited love, talent seldom leads to what the blessed hope or expect. As with unrequited love, talent “is a one-sided experience that can leave us feeling pain, grief, and shame.” Talent may get you to the doorway of success, but luck offers the handshake that brings you through the threshold.  Paradoxically, the more talent a person amasses, the less human they seem to the masses. The more unique an individual is, the less like the flock they are.

The Way of the Wizard

Talent is the energy that separates the mundane from the magical. We celebrate certain magicians for their wizardly ways, but most talent is met with apathy or antipathy. Talent is expressed in many different ways – physical, mental, professional, creative, a mix of all … However, translating talent to measurable momentum and survival resources is easy when you’re in the spotlight or limelight, but feels like circular madness when you’re not.

In fact, when you’re consistently told that you’re talented but are unable to use that talent to turn the applause sign on in your life, what good is it?

Talent becomes an exercise in cognitive dissonance: you’re told that you’re awesome, but not awesome enough to be a person that is embraced, shared, or lifted as a necessary talent. You’re told to believe in yourself, believe in your talent, exercise your abilities and expand the limits of yourself, but when you do that you can stretch yourself into someone unfamiliar to the world.

I read a recent article that talked about how important friends are to the success of an Artist. It makes total sense to me, and is validated by the metrics of my life. By follower counts, I have grown a social media following close to 50,000 for my Art and art brand over a decade. By engagement counts, I have a social media following of 50 on good days, mostly made up of people I’ve met in person.

The Great Good People

Talent is grandly taken for granted in our digital age.

We’ve lost our great good places and tangible ways to appreciate the creators amongst us in the era of covid. Sensations are created overnight based on trends and tribes. Now, many people are able to oversell their talent and capabilities with social media or digital technologies. The deep-fake, digital evolution has given everyone a platform upon which to fight for attention.

If the cage fight were a balanced match, I’d feel better about my odds, but it’s less about the talent now than the stage itself.  Consider,

Elisa Lam spent years on Tumblr and killed herself in a water tank on the top of an L.A. hotel. She’s a Tumblr sensation because of her attention to reflective content and “deep thoughts”.

Amanda Gorman read a poem full of timely poignant words during the Inauguration of Joe Biden and instantly became an internet star, signed to model agencies, and a feature at the Super Bowl. Evidently, the “Youth Poet Laureate” title was created for her. I don’t remember Maya Angleou getting such treatment. I revered Angelou in college, and she deserved her platform.

Is Gorman talented? Sure.

Is Gorman special? No. She is just a creator who was gifted special platforms and audiences. As a Harvard grad, there was no way for her to fail. Her success and celebrity were guaranteed based on her  platforms.

When I was a writer at a state school fighting for attention and dreaming of getting published by a Publishing House, I wasn’t offered special platform, title, or treatment. Why is that?

It wasn’t for lack of trying, just as it isn’t now. It is about the popularity contest, the heart of the great good show, where impressions and clicks matter more than integrity and quality.

I guess this is what it’s truly like to be a self-publishing, self-sufficient, self-centered artist in the digital age: I have enough time for a small circle of friends and a content calendar that speaks to a mostly apathetic audience, but since I have to plan, create, and share  experiences outside of the lines of a normal human life, this is the best I get.

Talent for another time, if I make it that long.

The Tightrope

I realize the odds are against me. I don’t have children or a large extended family, don’t have a protected class or status, don’t come from affluence or a place of great stability. I don’t hold popular positions in this Christian nation, or in any place where trust is put in God first (and not the talents of humanity). My views are fervently opposed by millions in America. In order to truly gain attention now, I have to be partially vilified.

Be the antagonist. Lurk and snipe. Shout my stands from the tallest platform.

But I have chosen not to walk that tightrope, be that person.

Now, our political lines affect our lives more than ever – what we consume, what we endorse, what we share. What was once boycotting of products and experiences has been rebranded as “cancel culture”. My way of canceling people nowadays isn’t to get in their face with my opinion; my method is to unfollow. But from this point forward, everyone will have a “blacklist” of cultural creators or experiences that don’t align with their personal beliefs or stances.

And they will be chastised by some, celebrated by others. I know I dwell on some lists, and have my own list of artists I don’t support due to their personal or political leanings.

Such is the case of Gina Carano, an American actress who was fired from the Disney show “The Mandalorian” for inappropriate and insensitive comments in social media. Depending on which side of the argument you fall, she is either an example or a martyr. Regardless of her level of “talent”, the stage has decided her path of success. I’ll boycott Carano’s future projects because I think her message was deeply divisive and insensitive.

But she’ll power forward anyway, and people will follow her, celebrate her “talent”.

I don’t think she deserves to be an embraced artist. But because she took a stand, the ignorant will line up to support her. Just as the ignorant fell in line in the 80s and fought against certain types of styles of art.

Fuck the PMRC.

And fuck Nazism and white power and privilege.

I think every “American” needs to spend a month in Germany and Poland in some sort of culture exchange. That month would involve touring beautiful Feudal towers called castles that once protected and dominated the populous, and will involve hitting every single site of Nazi atrocity that can be visited – Eagle’s Nest, Auschwitz, Dachau, just to name a few. Visit Berlin and see the remnants of a divided time. See what remains of the violence that once cleaved a country in two.

I saw it in person when I was a kid. The walls. The wires. The turrets and bombfields that forcefully separated a country.

Some culture, such as Nazi culture, deserves to be canceled. Visual and written propaganda was the backbone of a successful Nazi run. Very talented people in Germany created amazing works of art to sell the Nazi way of life, and the German people fell prey to the wizardry of Adolf Hitler, the talented artist and creator. In no way is that absolution of Adolf Hitler and his diabolical approach to humanity; it is an observation that before we knew Hitler as we do now, he was a talented, productive, brilliant artist.

Along the way, something triggered his talent in a malevolent direction.

Inside the Electric Circus

These days, the talent show is overwhelmed by automated propaganda machines and feed manipulation engines. No strategy matters if people don’t see your content. The reach of my content is limited based on the resources I put into spreading my message. The engagement of my content is restricted based on the political or personal leanings of the beholder. The sharing of my content is abysmal based on the placement of my content in the feeds of my audience, by the sheer chance of attention.

That isn’t to say I don’t have a core circle of people that appreciate my work. To them, I offer my love and complete gratitude. They are the reason that my artistic focus and brand have survived for 14 years; they are the reason that I continue to communicate my works and share myself with the public. The reality is that my stage is much smaller than I view it to be, and my talent is as obscure as the art I create.

Sometimes good, sometimes great, sometimes forgettable.

This year will not determine what I do with my talent in the future, but it will determine how I move forward with supporting the machines that work against me and if I continue to be an “outward artist” or “artrovert”. The expression of my talent seems mostly wasted on the mechanics of marketing and audience engagement. This art is bigger than a couple of clicks to a website, and the metrics only serve to remind me how unpopular I am in the great talent show.

If luck is my only way to a bigger stage and show, then I’d prefer to focus my magic on the works I create than the experience of the audience.

The circus of madness really isn’t worth it.

#xoterica

Xoterica 17: The Disclaimer

Artemis Sere's Xoterica The Disclaimer

“When one is not expressing himself, he is not free. Thus, he begins to struggle and the struggle breeds methodical routine. Soon, he is doing his methodical routine as response rather than responding to what is.” (Lee)

Both the human known as Chris and the artist known as Artemis Sere are going through a period of dramatic change.

This is a purpose-driven, altruistic evolution aimed at a better path to personal and professional happiness, minimizing my life and human impact, and continuing my story in an environment that inspires and ignites me on a daily basis. This redirection of person and path will not be without bumps, jarring edges and painful truths about me, my various stances and philosophies and reasons for being #humanfirst.

This post is a warning of content to come.

In the spirit of openness, I want to be clear about the pillars on which I stand, as my philosophies, beliefs, and stances influence my content. So, in case you didn’t know the person behind the Art, here is some information on who I am. I will cover these topics in greater detail in future blogs, but here are the highlights:

1. I am an Antithesis.

Since it’s in my making to question everything and cut my own road, I tend to support counter-culture. This often puts me in polar opposition to current popular trends in society and culture — or at least better connected to the altruistic, humanistic undercurrent through less than popular ways and means. I don’t watch TV, don’t go to the movies, stream the content that is interesting to me, only give my information or money to arts, products or businesses that I believe in.

2. I am a Humanist.

Yes, that also means I am an Atheist. As I believe the current state of the world and civilization is drifting toward Theocracy, I am a vocal opponent of religion and religious causes, unless they directly help and affect humans. I am 100% #humanfirst, support LGBT+ causes and all other forms of human diversity and inclusion.

3. I live by the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and the Boy Scout Law.

Bruce Lee, the man and his teachings, are huge influences on the person I am and the art I create. The Boy Scout Law provides a secular guidance on how to be an equilibrium-focused Human. Together, they form my personal compass.

4. I am an Activist.

Actions speak louder than words, oaths, tomes and scripture. Considering I live in a country that has a terrible issue with Separation of Church and State, I feel drawn into the fray. Pain and suffering have activated the warrior in me, and I will fight to defend Humanity against inhumane beliefs, actions, and practices.

5. I am a Minimalist.

Live small, dream big, create forever. Consumerism and greed are dangerous vexations that have infected the normal people of our world. To have or not to have, that is the real question of the day.

6. I am a Globalist.

I grew up around the Globe, and have been privileged to spend the last decade enjoying the experiences of a global job in one of the largest companies on the planet. I love experiencing the different cultures around the world, the challenges they face and the role that an “American” can play in their lives. Unfortunately, I no longer support the concept of what an “American” is and will elaborate more on why in a future blog.

7. I am a Pescatarian.

Eating was once the source of much pain in my life. I suffered from severe, debilitating Ulcerative Colitis for 13 years, and everything I consumed went right through me. Literally. Like Stephen King’s “Thinner”, I went from a plump 260 to ill 150 in a matter of 8 months. I slid into sickness quickly. Since then, I am careful about my intake choices. Living away from red meat, heavy sugars and various other bad dietary choices reset my health. I still eat fish and seafood, but mostly eat vegetarian meals – mostly through creative meatless options and/or juicing (inspired by the movie “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”). I have cut down my alcohol consumption considerably, and focus on other forms of relaxation.

8. I am Dying.

Every day. So are you. And time is too precious for us to waste. I am stricken with Chronophobia as a result of my illness. There was once a time when I was so sick that I had given up hope. There was also a time when I was so sad that I tried to take my own life. I have survived the gauntlet of time for a reason, and I plan to use my remaining time as wisely, effectively and fully as possible.

Those 8 points cover most of me, but they’re not all of me. I’ll reveal another important point soon. Everyone has a past, and my past has many characters and experiences that I will attempt to protect. For purposes of future posts and discussions, references to my previous employer will be termed “the Entity”; shareholders and large Corporate figureheads will be termed “the Lords”; my loving and caring colleagues and coworkers, the real wheels of the behemoth machine, will be termed “the Heart”.

Based on my future direction as a global blue-collar worker and ground-up business owner, some future content may shed a negative light on any of the groups listed above.

Some future content will distance myself from my current audience and make frenemies out of current friends.

Some future content will be offensive to some, confusing to others and perhaps seem maddening to people who have followed this human for years but never delved into the #artrovert side of me.

Some content will open doors.

Some content will close doors.

As a wise post recently stated, “If your door doesn’t open, it’s not your door”.

In a world full of revolving doors, I am confident that I will find the right one for me, even if it takes all of my life to do so.

#xoterica

 

Artemis Sere's Xoterica The Disclaimer

Pardon Me

Artemis Sere Pardon Me

Originally published on February 28, 2008 in my previous blog, seerum.livejournal.com.

From Dictionary.com: Repentance

There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to denote repentance. (1.) The verb _metamelomai_ is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Matt. 27:3). (2.) Metanoeo, meaning to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with (3) the cognate noun _metanoia_, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised. Evangelical repentance consists of (1) a true sense of one’s own guilt and sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred of sin (Ps. 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God; and (4) a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments. The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Ps. 51:4, 9), of pollution (51:5, 7, 10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21, 22). Thus he apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1; 130:4).

End of Repentance

As a new goal of my life, I will tear down this concept. It is used by the faithful to get away with pains against their fellow man/woman. It is used by the faithful to commit acts that are against human nature. It offers a “get out of jail” free card to sinners.

So, what is sin?

Again, from Dictionary.com….
1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2. any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3. any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It’s a sin to waste time.
–verb (used without object)
4. to commit a sinful act.
5. to offend against a principle, standard, etc.
–verb (used with object)
6. to commit or perform sinfully: He sinned his crimes without compunction.
7. to bring, drive, etc., by sinning: He sinned his soul to perdition.

In general, I can understand and appreciate the concept that humanity is flawed. That we were born imperfect and, therefore, need some help with gaining “divine perfection”. God knows that we’re going to eventually do something religiously or morally reprehensible, so It sent an avatar to make the burden less cumbersome. Through Jesus, or other avatars, you can ask God’s forgiveness for breaking divine laws, which govern how we ultimately should get along as human beings.

Deconstruction

But laws are human constructs. They define our reality. And, often, words are vague or fallible or just plain wrong. The simpler the law, the easier the application. The more comprehensive the law, the more apt for holes and scenarios where people can take advantage of the imperfections of human construction.

Thou shalt not kill? Simple enough. Never kill another human being. Zero. But, over the ages, Biblical followers spun that into “kill in God’s name”. Which evolved into “my interpretation of God’s word is right and yours is wrong and you should be killed for noncompliance” (through Crusades, Inquisitions…). Check out this website as a great example:http://www.christianissues.biz/ind….  In this light, the Biblical God is more of a tyrant than a gracious father.

These words will most likely be taken out of context and misunderstood.  I’ll be painted as some sort of anti-Christ.  I’m sure there’s a stake somewhere with my name on it.

To me, the bottom line is this:  Nobody’s perfect, we all know that.  Mistakes are part of human nature.  But there’s a coincidental, thoughtless mistake (such as accidentally stabbing yourself in the leg with a scissors when you’re staring a hot girl in sixth grade).  Or not reading directions carefully enough and baking a pie instead of a fruitcake.  Or making a left-turn onto a one-way street.

We all make mistakes.  There’s a vast difference between a mistake and a “sin” though.  Imperfection is part of human nature and cannot be controlled.  Sin, however, can be.  As human beings, we make choices every day and those choices ultimately affect our fellow man, woman and child.  But, ultimately, that choice directly affects ourselves.  We decided to sleep with someone even though we’re married.  We decided to take from the register at work because the business won’t miss that twenty-spot. 

The Golden Rule

Spin through the rules and you will see that the golden rule–Do unto others–is the ONLY one that God would actively impose. 

Don’t want to be murdered?  Don’t kill. 
Don’t want be stolen from?  Don’t steal. 
Don’t want to be cheated on?  Don’t cheat.

And on and on from there….  The moral pairings versus the choices we make are endless.  The Bible and other religious works scare us into following a certain set of rules based on that society’s direction at a certain point in time.  They are not meant to be taken literally or applied without a hint of tolerance.

Organized religion is theocracy without locus.   Repentance is forgiveness for an act you willingly chose to perform.

Here’s the paradox: if you knew you were going to perform that act ahead of time, shouldn’t you have stopped yourself BEFORE the act and, thus, shouldn’t have needed to repent?

Pardon Me

Repentance is a spiritual pass for mortal irresponsibility.   If there were no such thing as repentance–the ability to get away with something you know in advance is wrong–then there would be no need to ask for forgiveness from your God, from your family and/or from your friends.

We need spiritual and theological evolution. We need it now.  We need each human to take ownership of their actions.  Not to pass off their actions on their “imperfection” and asking for forgiveness from someone they have never met and from someone that they won’t meet until your dead.

Don’t waste your prayers asking for forgiveness from the afterlife when you could live a harmonious and forgiving mortal life.

Live cleanly and in harmony with others (and with our planet) and there is no need for repentance.

It is up to you.  According to theological texts, we were blessed with autonomy. 

Use your choice to benefit our world.

Artemis Sere Pardon Me