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Funny, I Don’t FEEL Enlightened

“Who am I? …I could be anybody.”
–Johnny Depp, Rango

Gneech's current business card.One of my upcoming projects in the next few weeks is to come up with a new look and feel for my business cards, which need a serious updating, if for no other reason that the only website they’ve got on ‘em is The Suburban Jungle. As much as I love SJ and always will, we’re coming up on three years since the comic finished, and it’s time for me to get a little more current.

Only problem is, I don’t have any idea what to do for it. A good business card, besides giving all of the relevant information, should give some capsulized form of self, something that sums up who you are and what you’re about, for the people who will be looking at the card later and thinking, “Oh yeah, who was that guy?” But lately, well, I don’t have a meaningful idea of what “self” I would want to give the world. My current card is a good summary of who I was, ten years ago, and who I have been, but to an extent that surprises me, I can’t put a finger on who I am now.

They told me, “Just be yourself!” So I did. Now they say, “Please be anyone else.”

Of course, ask a zen practitioner, and they’d probably applaud. The whole point of zen is to lose your sense of self, right? Does that mean I’m enlightened? ’cause I sure don’t feel enlightened. If anything, I feel sorta shapeless and incoherent.

Some years ago now I had a major emotional meltdown over the course of several months, facing all sorts of truths about myself that I’d shoved away, thoughts and ideas and experiences I’d repressed to the point of not even remembering I’d had them. This was not a fun thing to go through. In point of fact, it was awful, but it needed doing. But I think there is residual trauma from that, or something related to it, that’s making me very flinchy about committing to anything now. To take a position on something, requires defending it. To define myself as X, means that if X is later revealed as somehow undesirable, to be stuck with it. So far am I from being of the desirable zen-style “no mind,” I am instead vapor-locked in indecision.

Who am I? I could be anybody.

Of course, all social beings wear a mask– most introverts even moreso, and “reinvention” is nothing more than discarding an old mask in favor of a new one. Can I just make up a new “Gneech” and put him on, like putting on a new coat? Is that phony? Is it any more or less phony than everyday life always is and has been since birth? I don’t know. There’s a Cary Grant quote, which I had at hand once but have since been unable to find again, which says (paraphrased): All style begins with imitation. You do something repetitively until you assimilate it and it effortlessly and seamlessly becomes your own.

That’s true of a lot more than style: it’s true of art, it’s true of skill, it’s true of modes of speech, it’s true of just about everything. So, like Rango, who “put on” the cowboy persona until he finally actually became that persona, should my goal be to pick things that I see as positive and desirable and “put them on” until they become me?

And in the case of business cards, should I stare at a bunch of other designs and pick out elements I like from each to see what I can synthesize into a design of my own?

I think I think about this stuff too much.

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.


Jul. 10th, 2012 12:35 pm (UTC)
You're very open. You cultivate a contagiously sunny outlook born of a deep understanding of the alternatives. You're kind and think well of people and fret about your own sincerity and goodness, in the manner of how John Lennon said 'being a perfect artist is easy- become a perfect person and then just paint naturally'. And you're damn smart, Gneech.

Being that transparent has advantages as well as disadvantages. You're finding it disorienting, but it's that same quality that lets you construct imaginative worlds and characters that aren't you- I see this even in your pony art, sometimes.

One thing I've observed is that very few people are able to create imaginative works that are beyond criticism- but that's NOT the same thing as creating imaginative works that are compelling to many people. The latter comes from your type of odd selflessness and ability to inhabit another point of view. It's a writer's duty.

I suspect you're a cartoonist first- which necessitates writing, and art and, apparently, grave psychic damage :) I'm busily evading my own path as a cartoonist but will doubtless relent at some point. One thing I know from doing lots of things is, it's better to nail down one main avocation and then a day job (which eats a lot of time- mine is a self-employment but still quite unrelated to artistic pursuits). In some ways that has me intentionally scaling stuff back- trying to keep one main thing going at a time, and looking at what's clicking with people, based not on absence of criticism but on how thrilled a few people get and what the majority are doing.

Add 'Thinker' to the job descriptions ;)
Jul. 10th, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D That's a big answer, it's gonna take a while parse it all. ;)


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