Dan-man: The Expected Virtue of Ignorance

We’re all so special. We all could be president one day. We’re all one break from being the next American Idol (thank God that show is over). We’re all trying to stay relevant, somehow. But it’s all delusion and ignorance.

And I’m failing at being relevant and at being aware of my own ignorance. And mostly everyone else is, too. Well, except all those fuckers on TV, and the people sexing on top of piles of money (beware the paper cuts). Yet, does our irrelevancy and insignificance indicate a lesser status? I feel like I never gave a thought to being significant until social media made everyone have a voice, even those who should keep their thoughts locked in Tartartus with monsters and evil-doers. Now we have YouTubers and Soundcloud (or whatever) people blasting their thoughts and videos and music into the over-saturated cloud hovering above us and in our pockets. Status is something few of us should ever consider. It’s fleeting. Yet, if you want to be someone, even it’s as small (or big) as being writer, status does matter. You want to collect accomplishments; it’s just another extension of the American mentality: collect material possession. If not material, then bulletpoint accomplishments to add to your CV. But even successful writers who’ve spent year and countless hours pecking at their computers, even they are a blip on the radar. I’ve been glancing at writing competitions here and there. Most of the time, the guest judge is a poet or short story writer whose novel/chapbook is listed on Amazon but has no reviews. It’s has no readers. It’s out there, floating in cyberspace (and maybe in print), but who is reading it? How can one grab the attention of readers when there’s Cracked.com and WhatCulture and all the other list-based websites which are not the work of one person; instead, they rely on readers to do much of their work. How can one person compete? Six Celebs Who Are Shitty Parents. You know you’d read that over a story entitled, “Advent,” even though one has substance and one is a list about people you’ll never know. I’m the same way. I fall for the cheap stuff. So status? It matters, but it shouldn’t. It’s good, it seems, to be aware. But to focus on it too much? Talk about setting yourself up for depression and a spiral downward with the bottle by your side.

Somedays, it’s tempting to drop everything and head to some location where it is a). calm and detached from reality or b) buzzing with art, story, comedy, music, and film. Yet, I’m here, in a small-ish Wisconsin town where there is no comedy scene. Our college is a solid liberal arts college, but beyond that, I need to travel an hour and 1/2 to see any comedy/music/film worth its weight, (which is not to knock any of the beautiful work done in Oshkosh and its surrounding areas).

I believe it was Conan O’Brien or Demetri Martin who said in order to be truly successful, you need to have no backup plan. You need to throw yourself into your project(s) without some cushion to land on if you fail. Knowing you have a cushion beneath you allows you to relax. Instead of, “Fuck, I must perform tonight. I must write a story tonight. I must hit my 2000 word-per-day goal or I’m done. I won’t be able to buy food or pay rent.”

I can appreciate that thought. However, it is comforting to know that I do have a safety net. I have a job which provides a salary and medical benefits. Is this a bad thing? Maybe. I certainly have days where I’m too beat to write for more than fifteen minutes. There are days where I watch Netflix (awww, sheee-iiit, Arrested Development, baby!) instead of adding drops to the dry lake which might become another novel. Comfort can be bad. And perhaps I have too much. Too much comfort and cushion. Do I drop everything and head to a place where my entire monthly pay goes to surviving? No more saving up? No more random travels? I don’t know. It’s hard to give up comfort. Once you have it, it is addicting. To come home at the end of a work day and be able to just sit. Relax. Watch. Nap.

Besides, even if I dropped everything and dove head-long into my writing–relocating, joining some MFA program or high-grade writing group, who is to say that I don’t drown in the pussy-clogged pore that is pretty much every art-based city? No one. It’s a risk. And to take that risk, I think I’d have to be delusion. I’d have to be ignorant. And in that case, it can be seen as a virtue. Perhaps, if success in letters and writing is what I truly want, delusion and the virtue of ignorance is exactly what I need.

Now, I’m off to stage my own adaptation of a Raymond Carver story. Spoiler alert: I’m going to blow my nose off with a handgun.



Dan-man: The Expected Virtue of Ignorance

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