today i got to see the radiant child, a documentary on jean-michel basquiat.
by about the middle of the film i was feeling deeply inspired. anyone who wants to change the world, who is a creative spirit, should see this. his bright sensuality and unique pace and raw ambition make for a completely charming, compelling story. watching the speed with which he works makes me want to be unashamed to create quickly. his precision and editing process demand a respect for his organic gift, his drive, his discipline.
by the end of the film, i was feeling distraught…the combination of longing, racism and drug use that killed basquiat is not a thing of the past. tonight i listened to friends talk about the upswing of heroin in this neighborhood. as i write this someone is screaming outside my window: “it’s all bullshit, you know it’s bullshit. don’t try to tell me – i KNOW it’s bullshit!”…it is so hard to be awake to the way the world can hurt, and try to tell the story. i have often said we call people crazy when they can no longer pretend not to see the truth and we aren’t ready to admit it in a way that might change our own coasting through the myth of normalcy.
it is a gift and a burden to be prolific, to be awake.
i wonder for all the artists i know: how to protect and love them in their wholeness, so they can give their offering to the world…and – is it possible to be loved, to feel safe, and still make paradigm-shifting art?
this circles back to my recent meditations on transformation – is it possible without the near-death experience? would the caterpillar submit to the longing for cocoon if s/he knew there would be no more long walks on the delicious soft earth – that nothing recognizable would emerge in that first flight of the butterfly? would basquiat have suffered through the depression and loneliness and grief if he had known that someday the world would value him? and could we truly value him while he was alive? he was so delicious alive.
who are the basquiats of this era, the artists who are completely unfettered in their truth telling, completely new in their expression and interpretation of the shared dream, ‘reality’?
support them in any way you can.