I am now over half-way through recording the 108 Koans Five Year Retrospective. It feels good to be regularly putting stuff out there, even if no one is watching. I’m not even sure I want anybody to watch them. But that’s the perfectionist in me talking.
The Retrospective is really all about the act of making something, exposing my thoughts to the world, becoming comfortable with that, and getting in the mindset to keep doing it. I think posting the commentary online has helped me overcome some hang ups.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but rejoining social media within the last year might be having a very positive effect on my life.
I have been somewhat afraid of voicing anything online for a while. I was totally absent from social media for about five years. I think I had this idea that if I were to become well known someday, my social media accounts would become this archive of me and all the stupid stuff I ever posted. I didn’t want anything I posted on social media to become the canonical thing that I had said on a certain subject. But that led to me being afraid to put anything out into the public. Or, if not afraid, at least not in the habit of doing so.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but rejoining social media within the last year might be having a very positive effect on my life. I made my accounts totally public, and gradually became accustomed to publishing things for the whole world to see (not that many people actually see it, but the potential is there). Now that I’m recording the Retrospective, I can’t wait until I’m done with it so I can move on to making and sharing new art.
The Retrospective is also about devoting attention to your own work and recognizing it as important enough to think about, enjoy, and celebrate, even if no one else does. In a way, 108 Koans was about getting people comfortable with creating their own art as part of their everyday activity—art that is just for them. 108 Koans Retrospective, then, is about appreciating and celebrating that art at the same level as you would someone else’s (or maybe more, because it’s yours).
Part of the reason certain artists became well known is because they were writing about themselves and their friends. It’s easy to just want and hope that someone else will see your work, recognize its brilliance, and start writing about it. But that’s never going to happen until you have the confidence to promote yourself and recognize your own work as having significance.
So … forty-nine koans left to go. There are some good ones coming up. I might even get a bit nostalgic and sentimental toward the end. About my fear of saying something online that becomes canonical … I don’t want anything I’ve said in the commentary to become the canonical interpretation of a koan. But I also know I have no control over that. If, at some point in the future I become well known enough that some art historian looks back at all these hours of commentary, surely what I’ve recorded will become the default, definitive statement about each koan.
The difference between me now and me a year ago is … I’m okay with that. It’s not my intention, but that’s not going to stop me anymore from just creating, and sharing my creations. The more there is of myself out there, the more complete the picture is, and the more nuanced peoples’ understanding of me becomes. If only people payed attention to nuance.
You can view 108 Koans and all of the video commentary at derekds.com/108.