Evolution of a Writer
You have evolved into quite a writer
Could you write something for my company?
I was still into monkey business
Not even grasping
I was clearly out of my tree
This poem is a playful way to address some tensions between creating art and the business of selling art, in this case writing. Many artists struggle with having the creative process compromised based on market or business realities at any given moment. The need to materially survive can draw in sharp relief — or deep depression — the vocational viabilities of the higher creative processes and the lower needs for material survival or comfort. Fortunately, this can actually be a great source of inspiration of one of the many tensions in life — that of surviving versus thriving. There are good reasons for the portrait of a starving artist. This reality speaks both to the passion and value many artists place on their work, and the relative lack of value others may derive from the artist’s products of their work. I separate the process of creating art from the created “product.” I have little doubt that I derive much more joy from writing poetry than any other one individual can derive from my work. Of course, the social and commercial nature of an artistic work product can leverage its overall value much higher because many people may experience it and derive some benefit. The artist’s tendency to value the creative process makes sense — though perhaps not cents — since the creative process itself is typically what drives even further passion and creativity. Selling stuff is typically secondary. Of course, the relatively few artists which can make a decent living selling their art may leapfrog to another level of freedom in their creativity and expression — assuming selling stuff doesn’t compromise the height of creativity. Many view artists as “clearly out of their tree” if their valuing of commercial viability or success doesn’t match societal expectations. Ironically, this may be one of the main purposes that artists serve in society: to expand society’s limits and depth of experience beyond that which can be relatively easily bottled for commercial success. Yes, life is about much more than money. This is the nexus with evolution.
In this poem I play around and push the limits of our current understanding of evolution. Let me be clear, I am not claiming or even insinuating that the facts of Darwin’s theory of evolution are missing or wrong; nor that the theory is inconsistent with the scientific facts. What I am saying is that sheer survival to sexually reproduce is too narrow a framework to explain human experience or predict human behavior. Humans have evolved to such an incredible level of flexibility and adaptability that transcendent experiences (that would include subjectivity) outside of scientific reductionism present is difficult to ignore — if we want a more complete account of humanity. Of course, this debate and tension between “spirituality” and reductionistic “science” are not new. In the philosophy of science, there are understood to be limits to human knowledge. In the case of Darwin’s theory of evolution, it does a powerful job of explaining how life evolves, but it (nor the rest of science) cannot explain how life itself came to be. Plus, it leaves open the question of meaning or purpose in life or for life — NO SMALL QUESTION! The theory of evolution uses “random” as a convenient assumption or framework to build an explanatory theory of how life evolves. I consider the nature of “random” the great unanswered (and unanswerable) question within Darwin’s theory. While reductionistic science, in proper accord with its assumptions and arising precepts, denies subjectivity as an area of investigation which science can legitimately explore. Of course, accepting this assumption, though powerful in explaining some stuff, leaves the greatest questions in human life off-limits, and by improper cultural convenience and over-simplicity, simply ignores this aspect of reality (subjectivity), or worse yet denies it altogether. It is no logical surprise, that the gaping hole of “random” leaves much to be desired in a more fully coherent account of human life and experience. We need to evolve beyond this disability or maladaptation. The sheer physical survival of a purely materialist worldview strikes me as our past, not our future. This deterministic survival instinct, while part of our reality, becomes mere monkey business if taken as the whole truth. So who is it in the human species that is not grasping this next level of evolution? Maybe it will take some folks who appear “clearly out of their tree” to get us there…