Under the Influence: Ode to Existentialism

Summary: You don’t have to suffer for your art. Instead, enjoy every minute of it!

Recently, I had the opportunity of watching Birdman. Loved it! It was edgy, inventive, and fun- in a messed up sort of way.

If you’re not familiar with the movie, it revolves around Michael Keaton, star of the 1980’s “Batman,” making a theatrical version of a Raymond Carver short story compilation. Things do not go well, but the movie is well acted and expertly. It will probably win at least an Oscar or three in January.

This type of movie is a tribute to its genre, which began with Hemingway and is carried on through literary giants like Samuel Beckett, Hunter S. Thompson, and Charles Bukowski. It is minimalistic, existential, and often greeted with academic praise.

The problem with the genre is the lifestyle often required to sustain it. The narrative is fearless and irredeemable. The theme repeats itself over and over again: we are all alone in the Universe. This morose viewpoint has definitely taken its toll on the writers that espouse it. Hemingway shot himself. Carver drowned his kidneys in beer. The idea that a writer needs foreign substances to be brilliant dies with those who espouse it.

Creative persons are notorious for creating restrictive parameters in which they can work. “I can’t write if I’m not drunk… if it’s not Tuesday… if I’m not by the beach… if it’s not absolutely quiet.” Pick your poison. Although these factors may begin as confidence boosters, they often devolve into excuses. Deadlines don’t care if your lucky rabbit’s foot got washed down the drain. It’s publish or perish. So, the sooner you ditch your crutch, the more productive, even happier, you will be.

Living a contented life may not always create the best fiction, but it will allow you the joy of remember what created it and to pass on to the next generation.

So, the genre, but be cautious! You are brilliant all by yourself.

Blessings to you in Christ,

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