Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Interest VS Excellence
My friend Yalei came up with an idea that her and I would give each other topics to write about on our respective blogs. I think it is great because it will really give me something to focus on, and give my writing direction which it is certainly lacking! They will be sporadically posted amongst my normal posts, so never fear, my directionless word vomit will still live!
Yalei's blog is www.yaleiwang1990.blogspot.com so you can check out her posts on topics I have given her there. Right now, I am going to start at the very beginning with my first assignment from Yalei:
The confusion between excellence in a field and interest. Do you ever think that people get confused between people who are actually GOOD at something and people who are just really interested in something and therefore seem really skilled in that area?
After I read this I started thinking about 'hangers on'. Without meaning to sound awful, I have to say, there are a lot of 'hangers on' in circles I mix in, particularly the 'art' circles. A 'hanger on' is someone who doesn't make art, lives in a share house with artists, smokes a lot of marijuana and may or may not be 45 years old. They are reasonably intelligent, 'get' art, but most of all love the idea of living the artist's lifestyle without doing the hard yards in the actual making 'art' part. Does this make art an interest for them or something they are good at? They're good at living the life, talking the talk and looking the part but they don't make art, so I guess it doesn't. It's an interest.
People in art circles can spot these people a mile away. They are not confused between people who practice and are (generally speaking) 'good' at making art - and people who have art as an interest. There is something that makes this pretty obvious once you get to know a person, something subtle, yet it is there. I think it's about honesty in one's image. If you're an artist, there's no concern about constructing the image of being an artist because you're doing it and you could say anything and wear anything and live any where - you'd still be an artist. Whereas, the hanger-on, no matter what he/she does - because they don't make art there's no honesty in their 'artist's image'. It's entirely constructed to create an illusion that they are good at something that essentially is just an interest.
When I used to go to Pony Club, a lot of the instructors were overweight. A lot of them hadn't been on a horse in years, but they wore jodhpurs and they knew what they were talking about. If I had never gotten on a horse, but was fascinated with the whole idea of it all I could research it for years and know everything there is to know about riding a horse, I could wear the outfits and hang out with the people and talk about horses, perhaps I could even teach horse riding - but to not ACTUALLY do it, would my pupils think I was good at it, or just incredibly knowledgeable on the subject? Is there honesty in my image? I guess there it depends on the intention of the image, I mean do I speak from 'experience' or from compiled information?
I just want to add, also, that there is nothing wrong with being interested in art if that's what you are, do you know what I mean? Like you're a Real Estate Agent interested in art. You don't consciously try and live a 'wacky/zany' artist's life. Or you're an art student interested in Real Estate and you go to the auctions and know a lot about prices of houses in your area and stuff. I mean, you're still an art student. Can you be good at something you don't formally practice? I think that depends on what the something is... Alas I am getting off topic. Maybe I'll go into Real Estate. (Just kidding)
I think when it comes to 'excellence in a field' and 'interest', there's no fooling anyone. No amount of knowledge or enthusiasm could make people believe otherwise. Knowledge and enthusiasm is fantastic though, as long as you're honest with yourself and others about where you stand.