Saturday 14th April 2012.
I came home a few hours ago after attending Monika’s art circle at her home in Bryanston, my first attendance in a long while. It was so nice to see old friends and meet a new person. It was altogether lively and lovely, discussing inter alia a few art works that were presented by those who had brought their art works for criticism. I may comment later on a different and separate blog on those art works and what they expressed – for me – but for the moment just to say that the artworks were mostly to do with the descent into the unconscious; re-claiming the feminine; acknowledging the shadow, inter alia. I felt much enlivened when I left around midday.
When home, I had the pleasure of listening to a 9 minute audio on my computer by Michael Bernard Beckwith on ‘Breaking the Arrangement with Mediocrity’, courtesy of ‘Sounds True’ to which I subscribe. It was a wake-up call for me, speaking as he does about the status quo and how many of us get caught in it – I felt as if he was speaking to me. So I am blogging about this, this afternoon – do comment if you wish.
Mediocrity is like an insidious poison; it creeps silently like a snake in the night into one’s soul. Slowly, the status quo takes up permanent residence; my brain gets dulled; I feel enfeebled; I care less; I feel indifferent … I feel so stuck in this mediocrity and I have to wonder what my fear is towards getting out of it. That feeling of being stuck in the status quo is a feeling that I have experienced before (and written about) in my life – it is simply awful. I know that this is when I feel I have not a single creative spark in me. I feel deadened, dull, unable to move physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, in an agony of impotence, fearful of making the first step towards getting myself out of the quagmire. I feel as if I have struck a bargain with the Devil no less when I try to put those dismal thoughts aside and reach out for some comfort usually by way of food .. it is all so unconscious and I am so often quite unwilling to confront this in an honest way.
As Michael Bernard Beckwith says and as I see as valid and true, there is a collective tendency to mediocrity, evidenced in society on many levels. If I look at the ‘Shorter OED on Historical Principles’ definition of ‘mediocrity’, it says, inter alia (point 5) ‘the quality or condition of being mediocre. Now chiefly disparaging. 1588’. The word ‘mediocre’ is defined inter alia as ‘of middle height’ … ‘of middling quality, neither good nor bad; indifferent’. Carlyle is quoted: ‘It is thus that mediocre people seek to lower great men’.
This tendency of our society towards mediocrity has been punted before in the press and on the radio. We have a few lively independent radio and TV stations as well as the press – at the moment. It is always refreshing to realise that there is awareness of mediocrity in many levels of society; but awareness is one thing and action is another. We actually do put up with poor service, poor delivery, unsatisfying relationships, uncreative lives, ‘living small lives in our sheltered and comfortable boxes’ to paraphrase Michael Bernard Beckwith. It is almost a conspiracy to keep things stuck in the status quo – don’t rock my boat and I won’t rock yours. If you do, you will be alienated in some subtle way.
He contrasts this with the impulse towards the evolution and unfolding of our souls, the impulse towards excellence and our ‘…conscious participation in the evolutionary impulse that governs all creation’. And it is on this hopeful note that I want to end. Doing something ‘out of the box’ is a great step in moving away from from mediocrity and towards that spark of creativity within ourselves, which yearns for ever unfolding and boundless expression.
On my side, I have placed torn strips of old newspapers into a large bowl, dampened thoroughly with water – and I plan to make something out of this. I am not quite sure what .. I think I will have to make a flour paste or something and let the newspapers and goo harden – and then just see where my fingers take me in fashioning something. It will be my attempt at striking a blow towards my inner tendency to mediocrity.
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