Artists are often solitary creatures, but without connections to other creatives, we risk drowning in our own mental swamps. Photo: “EXOTIC”, © everettovrk, Adobe Stock.
On a September day, a flamenco dance teacher arrived for a month-long storytelling workshop, a pilot for Ron Bunzl’s project CIRC/US, only to find her own former dance instructor, the one whose classes she’d left with abiding body shame and corrosive self-doubt, was a fellow participant.
I’ve lost a lot of writing contests lately. Well, I didn’t lose them, exactly, but I definitely didn’t win anything. I’ve gotten a lot of plain old standard-issue rejection letters, too. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect on how my ego slithers into my creative work. Ultimately, the ego causes all my creative blocks, and probably yours too. It’s what tells me I’m a worthless human if people don’t like my writing, which is the thought underlying every other thought that stops me, thoughts like, But I can’t write until I’ve checked my email. It’s what tells me to write what’ll make me look good instead of what’s true. It’s what stops me from sharing what I’ve written. It pulls my attention to the reception of my work, and away from my real reasons for creating: to touch people, to make them laugh, to show them they’re not alone, to take them for awhile off their mental hamster wheels (we’ve all got them), and to give what I can. Still, I’ve made stuff and shared it. Luckily, we don’t have to lose …
With the release of Gong’s latest album, Rejoice! I’m Dead!, bassist Dave Sturt knew his band was out on a limb. Gong has gone through 11 official incarnations since it began in a French commune in 1967. Both the band’s co-founders, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth, died in the last year and a half, and the current lineup contains none of the original members. The first song on the album, a hard rock tune laden with vocal harmonies, sounds different from anything the group has done. And yet audiences have responded to Rejoice! I’m Dead! with renewed fervour.