I was speaking to my friend Lauren at LadyLibertine and she told me she had recently applied to be a HuffPo Citizen Journalist. There was a chance to cover either the Republican or Democratic convention, and I asked which one would most be of interest to her. In my mind I had already chose one myself. “Republican, of course.” She said. “Of course!” I replied.
A true liberal/ Democrat/ anthropologist/ life scientist would want to study the “other.” I understand Democrats, but Republicans–their ways as arcane to me as the Xavante! of Brazil, or another “exotic” tribe. Why do they miss the obvious? Why are their hearts so stony? Who do they expect to be in the afterlife? What are their taboos? (My guess: Social policy for Republicans ie. Dick Cheney agreeing that gay marriage is okay since he has a lesbian daughter. Money for Democrats, the bulk and sheer amount of it that keep you from actually living out your populist dreams.)
Anyways, the point I am getting to here is mirroring in society and how effective it may be for your creative self. If you only hang out with like minded artists, read like minded texts, expose yourself to art that is within your milieu are you ever going to grow? On NEXTNESS, a great newsletter for creatives, there is good point made about ‘killing your idols:”
Designer Marian Bantjes, who’s worked for Saks, Penguin, Granta, Wallpaper* and Wired, is even more harsh on aspirants who contact her and her design peers for help and advice. “Please take this suggestion. Pretend we’re dead,” she says. “Look at our work, read our books, read the articles and interviews we’ve all done, and watch the videos. What is my opinion […] It doesn’t matter. What is your opinion? This is what original thinking and research is about. Learn to form your own opinions and find the evidence to support them.”
Without getting out of our own cultural feedback loop, our Facebook channel, our shows, our point of view, I think our work suffers. We often think, if we could just write a story like X, Y or Z, we would be happy or finally have achieved something.
Some ideas on counterprogramming:
- Watch shows you hate. Seethe. Think about how stupid they are and how you could do better. Write.
- Try to pop a hole in some conventional wisdom. Listen to Freakonomics, think about how the stories we tell ourselves sometimes have very little basis in fact or quantifiable data.
- Read books written for the “other.“ When was the last time you picked up an autobiography of someone you can’t stand? You might find some compassion in their situation. Or not?
- Go to the “dark side.” I have many friends who have created alter-egos for their shadow self.
- Don’t do easy. Question what you are receiving. I just Googled “Christian Right Books” and I got all pro-liberal anti-christian tomes (see the screenshot below)…sometimes I wonder if our “results” are so catered to our data stream that we might as well be living in China, where search results are edited by the state. Think about it!