Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Art and ego

So every Monday evening I go to DieNasty.  It's a live, improvised soap opera and it is always funny.  During every episode there are countless hilarious lines that I would love to repeat, as I'm watching I'll make mental notes to remember certain lines or phrases, and as soon as it's over they are gone.  Poof, just like that.

So that got me thinking about ego and confidence.  Are improvisers more confident?  They are able to turn out a product that is a ghost.  One moment in time it exists and then it is gone.  Are they so confident in their ability and hilarity that everything they do and say can be a throw away because they have faith that they can do it again?  Maybe "throw away" is the wrong term.  Actually no maybe needed, throw away is not what it is.  It's performance art, you just have to be there.  If you are not there, then for you that art did not exist, and those who are there to witness it are richer for it.  I have just come to the conclusion that improv and other performance art is in a completely different category.

Writers want to record everything.  They are afraid of loss.  Every idea or flight of fancy must be transcribed and saved.  Nothing ephemeral with that lot, it's all got to be concrete.  They want to be able to show something for their work and time spent.  "Yes, I was busy all afternoon.  See?  Read this!" 

So who has the bigger ego?  The people who want to save their work so they can show you?  Or those who entertain for a space in time and then it is gone?  It's like comparing artists who work in chalk to those who work in oil.  Is something temporary less valuable than something everlasting?  Or perhaps it's more valuable because it's only around for a short time?  In my mind all art is of value and it all has it's own beauty, but it's the artists who I am thinking about now. 

There is arrogance in either camp.  The casual confidence of somebody who can do something brilliant and has enough faith in their abilities to know that they can do it again, differently and maybe even better.  Or the pride in doing something and saving it so that they can show people what they have done.  Do I have to come to a conclusion?  Because I just don't know.

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