Why I make art

Published on 2024-02-29

A few weeks back I was watching a video essay:

"The Kronk Effect" by CJ the X

In it, CJ talks about art, why we make it, and how our craft is often deeply invested in our insecurities.

At the end of the video, they interviewed a whole bunch of other people who do videos online, asking two questions:

The first question was "why do you make art?" All the interviewees had really compelling and obviously planned reasons why they make art. You could really tell they've thought a lot about this question.

The second question was "why do you really make art?" And of course, their more honest responses revealed a lot more insecurity. A desire to be heard, to be validated, to feel smart...

I think about that question too, quite a bit.

I wrote a little bit a while back about part of the reason why I write the way I do:

Why I don't write arguments

I don't think that article really spells out "why" I write, though. I have a more honest and insecure answer too. One that's almost spelled out in the second piece I ever wrote on my gemlog:

Who do you write for?

To put it more concisely, I think the reason I make art is to find friends. I don't think I'd say that I feel "lonely," but I do find thinking a lot of the things I think, a lot of the ideas I want to express, is kind of an inherently lonely endeavour. There are people out there who may find these thoughts interesting, though I rarely encounter them in the Real World. I suppose the hope is that in broadcasting them online, they might resonate with a few strangers out there across the Great Chasm--more than they would with the people I meet IRL.

I suppose that's the advantage of an opt-in broadcast media like the internet. There's few to nobody whom I share my life with offline who'd be seriously interested in talking with me about the kinds of stuff I talk about here. But those people could be out there, somewhere.

In that sense, writing about these things is kind of like the first half of a TCP handshake.

This is kind of the opposite of a problem I wrote about in early January:

I want to be your friend

The problem I had then was that there is nothing inherent to the act of Posting that likens it to "the first half of a TCP handshake". There's implicit boundaries I always fear I may be crossing. That's large part a matter of social anxiety, I suspect, but nonetheless.

There's definitely something paradoxical to getting to know someone. To know someone, they have to be willing to be emotionally vulnerable with you. But often, we only feel safe being emotionally vulnerable with those whom we know. It's a catch-22.

Of course, you can solve this pretty easily by taking the lead. Expressing some aspect of yourself, as I keep finding myself doing on this gemlog, every day, for one reason or another.

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