The Art of Love: A NerveCenter Discussion on Inspiration

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The Art of Love -A NerveCenter Discussion-    


Have any of the other creative types here seen the quality of their work change with the existence of a happy relationship? I felt that the writing and photography I did a while back when my whole world seemed angsty, lonesome, etc., was some great work. But I’ve noticed an unquantifiable change in my creativity while in good relationships. Is this just me? Am I allowing myself to be too distracted from my artistic work? Is creative work produced in an environment of melodramatic tension, angst and depression actually of a higher quality than that produced when life is wonderful and balanced? Is there more creativity flowing between a lover’s legs than onto a canvas?!

I don’t have the foggiest idea what the answer is. But I’ve recognized a disparity here, and for myself, I’m determined to correct it and find a better balance for my own creative expression.


Speaking as a musician, I find that I actually tend to be more inspired (and produce more satisfying music) when I am happily involved with someone. The whole “tortured artist” ideal just does not compute with me.


I have done absolutely no writing or drawing since I got my head straightened out, years ago. And you know what? It was worth the trade. I’d much rather be happy . . . especially since my art sucked.


There didn’t seem to be any musical problems when John met Yoko. Now, when Paul met Linda, that’s a different story.


The connection isn’t between art and sex but between art and pain — the pain of the distance between the self and the divine, the pain of oppression or alienation, the pain of mental illness or yes, the pain of unfulfilled sexuality. It’s a trite theory, I know, but one I subscribe to. The reason that some artists can’t work if they’re being romantically or sexually fulfilled is that instead of expressing that pain, they’re dulling it in the narcosis of love (or a facsimile thereof). Instead of bringing art out of that big black void in their soul, they’re trying to fill it in with another person. (Thereby missing the whole point of love, I might add.) You can make art and still have a healthy romantic/sexual life if you don’t use love to obliterate your pain.


I’ve never really understood the idea that one has to be a “tortured artist.” I’ve certainly found it completely baffling that some artists find they need to seek out the most messed up situation, relationship or chemical dependency possible as a way of finding their muse. Seems to me that leads to only one type of art, and I like the idea of a person being able to create a statement of where they’re at at any given time, rather than by intentionally imposing a situation upon themselves.


It may be an individual thing.

Does sex fuel my art? Yes. Does love fuel my art? Yes. Does loneliness fuel my
art? Yes. The difference here is in motivation, drive, inspiration and
conceptualization. If I were to gain the things I long for — and express in — my
art, I suppose there would be little or no need for me to express that longing

If an artist is adept at expressing his/her lack of love, then finding it does
affect his/her motivation, and there may be a point where the need for such
song/image is no longer required from that person. They would be hypocrites.
It’s like rappers who continue to sing about the troubles of living in the ghetto
when they live in mansions.

Now, can a sexually content person sing of longing? Can a man write in the voice of a woman? It’s possible, but not as genuine.

So I say great sex may well lead to the outcome of bad art, if a good
portion of their creative drive came initially from bad sex.


I used to be obsessed with playing classical guitar. It expressed my sadness. I dedicated up to five hours a day to it and would play truly beautiful music filled with longing and loneliness.

But then I developed more of a social life. Then I had a girlfriend. Then I got a serious job. A lot of things that motivated me to play (i.e. wanting to master something which I could fuel with my emotions) died when I came out of myself. These days I rarely contend with loneliness and I must say that I am happier for it. But I no longer create beautiful music on that guitar.


I think there is a certain drive to create that gets filled in different ways. When you are with someone you really care about, particularly at first, that creative drive gets directed into the relationship. When you are on your own, that creative drive gets turned outward to (perhaps) create music, art or [fill in the blank here].


Abaddon, I think you hit the nail on the head as far as my creativity is concerned. It’s not that I’ve felt a need to be a tortured artist. It’s just that I’ve enjoyed putting my creative energies into my relationships. I’m creating an artistic existence rather than something a little more tangible . . . Hmmm, sounds like high fallutin’ crap to me, but maybe it’s something like that. I feel like I probably need to take the positive energy that’s coming from the relationship and channel some of that back onto a page or canvas.


I just don’t buy that hydraulic “creative drive” idea. I can see how being in a relationship or fucking a lot could leave you too exhausted to make art, but I don’t think art and love/libido draw from the same well. If anything they reinforce each other, and are opposed to the dull ennui that kills both.


I think there is a certain mindset that is the same or very similar when you are creating art and when you are being with another person in an intimate (not necessarily physical) way. There is a sense of affirmation in affecting the world around you and creating something, whether it be the splashes of paint on a canvas or the more ephemeral mood or atmosphere between people. Both are ways of putting aside the filters we use to interact with life and just being in a way that sets aside the labels we’ve assumed for ourselves to help us deal with the world.

Being in love can help push that creative energy onto the canvas, but being with the one you love probably doesn’t — you’ve got other things to do, be it frenzied fucking or languid conversation.


Drax, sometimes you just need to fuck, and sometimes it’s fun to create a beautiful, passionate, sexual perfomance piece. I would assert that there is one creative spirit that we draw upon for both art and sex. Was Prince just fucking the stage, or was he expressing the rapture of music and sex at the same time?


I’m not saying that sex can’t be art — close to the opposite, in fact. I’m countering the Freudian idea that each person has a discrete amount of “energy” that can be expressed as either sex or art — that art is just the product of a frustrated libido. (This was an extremely popular notion around the turn of the century, by the way. Hence the mania about preventing boys from masturbating; the laws of the “spermatic economy” accorded that such activity would take away from the impulse to civilizing work that was the true manly calling.) In my view, sex/love and art are wholly distinct spheres of activity; while they can interact, they are independent.


Ah, I’m definitely not saying that we have a limited amount of energy. I have, actually, a limitless amount of energy. What I do have a limited amount of is time. And when you get really wrapped up in a person (or when you get wrapped up in any activity, really), you start taking time away from things that are in the same general area of your life. If it’s being intimate (with your art or your significant other), they can take time away from each other when you focus towards your S.O. or your art.

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