“Living is boring; being is suffering [struggling]” Samuel Beckett
I am a being-shepherd struggling to advocate useless creations (the fine arts and more and more the humanities). I understand Heidegger’s concept “shepherd being” as where a person’s conscious efforts are used to guide his various desires and fears in becoming. Shepherding being is a struggle at liberation from inside influences. My struggle is also as Zizek has mentioned, one of liberating from ideology: To be free from ideology enough to recognize being (as a verb) or becoming. Being free of ideology is liberation from the outside, from its influences. Useless creations seem to offer refreshment toward both inside and outside, a kind of reset button, offering new and different perspectives on becoming. Useless creations soon became a purpose for me. My advocacy is a contribution to those who haven’t experienced useless creations or who are stuck in complacency or who enjoy the comradery of struggling being shepherds.
I first became invested in advocacy of useless creations after pre-teen night sweats from anxiety over my being a flake of dust on something called a planet freakishly the right distance from the sun to sprout living organisms. The anxiety blossomed fully in my late teens when I began shepherding being and committed myself to stuffing my anxiety into the study of poetry and the craft of writing poetry. The act of stuffing is actually called sublimation. It began my 10,000 hours of Gladwell as a burdened Nietzschean camel (Thus spoke Zarathustra), and it required lots of shepherding (to mix metaphors and references). At the time of course I was unaware that these were at play in my psyche.
There were no schools for this kind of study, and so I had to bring discipline, sacrifice, and focus into my daily routine. Discipline meant giving my best energy and extra time to study. I kept a book of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry going for at least a decade so that my background would be broad enough though I had visions of my head’s interior being a library of poetry. Though I was attempting to survive financially, I tried to have a family also. This may have been foolish in the world of the late 20th Century where the husband was to be the bread winner and seek raises in a career.
Though much of the attempt to have a family was disastrous for a number of reasons, I was willing to sacrifice much of the American family ideal for my 10,000 hours, Joseph Campbell’s bliss, and mentors with whom I never met. If my having been a camel to take on the load of being a poet wasn’t enough, taking on the family I became a Nietzsche’s Zarathustra lion in the desert, ferocious to make ends meet to make certain my children got what they needed, and make it through family habits and rituals. However, soon enough, I was having optimal experiences, my being in a flow with my reading and writing. That helped. Then I found my way to a teaching position, a dream and goal from early on. The teaching position allowed me to help younger people who are always lost in the brambles of anxiety and capitalism.
In the arts, if you don’t grow, your work repeats itself, parodies itself. So my struggle and bliss continued by my reading philosophy. My poetry grew significantly because of the reading and my continued shepherding of being while enjoying the Nietzschean childlike play in my writing. I attribute my success with my children (as rough as they have had it) to my following my bliss. They watched the struggle (camel and lion) and in their own fields have done the same. Each now shepherds being.
My anxiety since my childhood hasn’t disappeared. However, because I created my purpose, my path demanded that I sublimate the energy that anxiety is, so that I would focus and work daily at the struggle of writing poems and reading. Today, my poems are not very comforting poems. They give the reader the experience of anxiety that is embedded in each subject that attracts my writing poetry.
I struggle to advocate for useless creations because capitalism through illusion makes banal living on this tiny planet accidently the right distance from the sun, one of millions in the universe, and so deadens the exhilaration that is living each day. Through “efficiency” our culture is working toward and we will soon have disposable lives. I reject that notion. Each day is a kind of gift for creating poems that share that experience of being alive, that exhilaration, with others who know the experience also. Life is short: One needs to create one’s own purpose and let that purpose express itself each day.