Poets, Artists And Other Fools

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Image by Dream Catchers

No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.

When I don’t feel in the mood for painting I go to the movies for a week or more.

Edward Hopper


Senex and puer are not hidden. They do battle on the world-political and social stage, underpinning profound rifts between rigid conservatism and free wheeling expression evident everywhere we turn. — the senex-puer split can start wars and determine the course of history. It may be seen in the political divisions of the Vietnam era(Hillman’s writings on this topic began in 1967). It is in the suicide bombers flight towards immortality in the face of monolithic powers. It is in the confrontations between a disenfranchised youth and the World Trade Organization — The puer surfaced in the idealism of flower power. Today he infuses the mercurial minds of Silicon Valley, who show senex faces when their companies move to Wall Street. . The puer is in the twinkle-in-the-eye creatives who can never realize their vision, the senex enters at midlife, when the soul turns dry, vision has dimmed and unlived life begins to plague us. This pair is all around, roaming unrecognized and in need of our attention.

My parents married with big dreams pushing at them. Love, children, art and writing all were waiting to be created by these two idealistic youngsters, but life disabused them of how easy that was going to be. The depression was on. They were poor as the proverbial church mice. Their castles in the air crumbled pretty quickly. My father mutated into a senex in short order.

They both became more “realistic,” but my mother at least realized her dream to paint after the children grew up.

I’m a pretty solid puer type, even now in my troisieme age. I doubt if it’s possible for me to stop dreaming. The inspiring dream seems to be my only way forward. I’ve tried to be practical and reasonable but it doesn’t seem to be my natural path. “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one,” to quote another puer.

The world criticizes the so-called flying boy. He will be attacked with words and even more lethal means sometimes. In any case, society is organized for “serious people,” people who grasp the importance of money. People who are attacked for being dreamers or being too sensitive — whatever that might be — learn to be themselves or suffer along the wrong path.

Medium collects dreamers. Most of them dream of doing something they’re good at and earning enough money to live an acceptable life. In our society that’s a big dream. The common dream promoted by the ethos we live in is to simply make good money, as if that could be a substitute for living your dream.

Poets, artists and anyone creating beauty are born with a sensitivity to life’s connections and meaning. They can’t take their eyes off the beauties flowing through the world. These are valuable people. We need them. The fact that our society encourages them to abandon themselves to become drones is a disgrace. Strangely enough, these sensitive souls have to learn to fight the system. They will need enough self confidence to disregard most advice and go their own way. Without much help, they’ll need to learn to listen to the genie within.

We all have our own genius. Letting ourselves be measured by standards that don’t apply to us is the first mistake, but that usually starts when we’re too young to resist. Living a meaningful life on this planet is difficult enough without trying to live as someone you’re not. A whole host of ailments, from depression to suicide follow self abandonment. I’d rather take the blows of outrageous fortune than try to live as a version of the “successful man” our culture holds up to be imitated.

A vein of inspired genius in each of us really is there, if we can find it. That is the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Finding it is the issue.

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