Artists Make Horrible Missionaries

The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts,
for two forces are at war within him —
on the one hand the common human longing
for happiness, satisfaction and security in life,
and on the other a ruthless passion for creation
which may go so far as to override every personal desire.
— Carl Gustav Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul [1933]

I’m a horrible missionary.    I hate going out on the stump to create an impact other people’s memory by repeating the old well honed and effective performance.

It is exploration that is a blast for me, not affirmation.  Doing the same polished shtick over and over again to get audience affirmation doesn’t seem really attractive to me.  I’m primarily a writer, not a performer, more interested in ruthless creation than in gracious repetition.

I can perform, of course.   All writers are performers on some level, managing voice or voices in text.  And I did lots of live television,  helping people tell their stories, plenty of presentations, conveying information to a group.

But is my delight in transporting an audience over and over again?   No.

My delight is going someplace new, unknown, coming up with new connections and sharing them.  For me, creation is the joy, even at the cost of comfort.

 A musician must make music, an artist must paint,
A poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
What one can be, one must be.
—  Abraham Maslow

[Artists] love to immerse themselves in chaos in order to put it into form,
just as God created form out of chaos in Genesis.
Forever unsatisfied with the mundane, the apathetic, the conventional,
they always push on to newer worlds.
— Rollo May, “The Courage To Create

Perhaps there’s such a thing as a well-adjusting artist, someone who is constantly adjusting himself.  But there is no perfect tense to an artist, no well adjusted artist — they are not finished.  An artist who is perfectly finished is probably done.
Similarly, Wilde was not, for example, a homosexual — he was not a badged thing.
An artist is always in the process of changing.
—Stephen Fry, novelist and star of a film about Oscar Wilde.

The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.
— Max Eastman

Artist as Guide:
The popular idea that the artist’s primary motivation is to communicate with others is false.  The first necessity of the artist is to communicate with himself in order to establish a reconcliation of the various forces in his own psyche.

The end product, when successful in the achievement of this goal, will enable others to communicate with themselves.

This transference is the appeal of art.
— Davis L. Smith, 196

Great craftspeople please an audience.  Great artists challenge themselves.

And they make horrible missionaries.