Shots of Wit

A regular posting of witticisms, aphorisms, and general musings by Clifford Cohen.

Being one of the club…

All creative pursuits (e.g., art, music, acting) in which it is difficult for practitioners to get good at what they do, and even more difficult to get noticed (or rewarded) by the general public for doing it, will spawn an associated culture that is exclusive, intimate, and insular.

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Just a little observation about the nature of the mindset that is often shared by a community in its pursuit of creative goals. This mindset doesn’t always have to be present, but often is. Personally speaking, I have difficulty accepting that individuals in certain fields need to be as exclusive and insular as they often are. I can guess that it has to do with the fact that the barriers to entrance are of such magnitude that when a person overcomes these barriers, the person is viewed as worthy of receiving the acknowledgement of being “special”, and has earned the right to respect. Such respect is a kind of “reward” for “paying one’s dues”. As with any circumstance in which people share a limited professional space, a certain intimacy and mutual comradery seem to develop in such situations. I’ve experienced artistic communities that, in large measure, seem exactly the opposite as described—such as the one here in Seattle, so I question the inevitability of the conventions described by this aphorism, but I’ve also seen these conventions play out exactly as described.

The key value of this aphorism is simply to prepare a person for the kind of culture they will likely encounter when they enter a given professional space. It also suggests the possibility of a person deciding not to buy into self-perpetuating dynamics, and instead making their own rules for enjoying their success—such as viewing those outside the “bubble of exclusivity” as not being outside the bubble…or perhaps acknowledging that no bubble need exist at all.

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