Pavlov’s Dogs, Private Life

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I’ve had nothing to say. On Wednesday, we reached the watershed beginning of the active phase of our combined current situation. It will continue for at least the next two months. In most ways, I’m very glad that we’ve agreed to keep what’s going on private, sharing only with those we love, trust and can rely upon. In another way, I’m experiencing a small, unexpected internal struggle, attempting to disengage from and / or construct the necessary walls here on the blog and in the few types of other social media – largely Facebook – that I regularly participate in.

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Shows go out; shows return.

This is a bit of a surprise to me. It’s not as if I haven’t needed to temper my words, or obliquely / cryptically refer to events before; far from it.  In most of those instances, though, I was dealing with adversarial situations, even overt persecution. To be able to focus on my artwork (and its attendant realms like the garden and teaching) was a lifeline and an affirmation. I’m sure writing about those parts of my life will feel that way again, maybe even soon, but at the moment, they seem lackluster; even the upcoming shows are like old repetitive tasks to be completed, not all that much different than doing the laundry. I’ve done it all hundreds of times; what’s to write about?

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Plants grow and are cut down; these have already returned.

Likewise, social media, once another type of lifeline (an end-run around deafness), holds little interest just now, possibly because it feels quite false to so severely compartmentalize. Yet, I vaguely miss the bit of daily interaction even as I shun it.

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Pre-social-media, pre-deafness, this was never a problem; I simply ‘disappeared’ as often as I needed to, for as long as I needed to, whether it was to get some artwork done without distraction, or to deal with personal situations akin to the one we’re currently undergoing, or just to have some quiet space. In the less-deafened, pre-caller ID, pre-answering-machine days, I can remember a room-mate watching, amused, every time I fiercely stared down the ringing telephone, refusing to answer, “to be one of Pavlov’s dogs!” I don’t know why that simultaneous need for privacy and to question our conditioned responses disappeared for me in terms of technology and particularly the internet, but I do know that, like the woman in this moving tribute, deafness was the impetus. Now that artists are routinely conditioned to live out loud, attempting to withdraw is, well: something I had to write about, if only to share inconclusive thoughts on not sharing so much.

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4 thoughts on “Pavlov’s Dogs, Private Life

  1. I completely support this choice for retreat, as an artist who also values (nay, requires!) quiet time as part of the process. Disengaging from the public face allows us to re-evaluate and if necessary, reconstruct our image or message or purpose.

    As one of your regular blog readers (and yes, I should have introduced myself ages ago.. sorry ’bout that), I’m sure I speak for a lot of us when I say “Do what you need to do without wasting energy on us. We’ll be here because we like your work and your words”. Art is not entertainment, despite what social media would lead us to believe. Art is substance and substance takes time.

    For the record, I quit Facebook back in November for many of the same reasons and I couldn’t be happier about it. Talk about liberating!

    • Thank you, Shana, and thanks for introducing yourself. I took a quick glance at your site, will look further later but: great work!

  2. Yes, I agree with most of what Shana said as well: I like keeping as low a profile as possible probably 95% of the time. My sanity (which grows in leaps and bounds daily) requires it, producing more artwork (finished building the first new sculptural piece and I love it! Pix soon.) demands it, and I also really like being off-the-radar.

    That being said, getting cranked up to do a piece of performance art has meant reinserting myself into the meet-and-greet-sponsors, do production meetings, and some limited PR, much of which has been just wonderful for regaining the ability to be “the artist” again. And it’s helped speed the return to sanity too. My days are now “eat/sleep/work/make art” and frequently not in that order. 😉

    Huzzah!

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