Or, Sweeping The Steps Of "Chapel Perilous".
The question you brought up, specifically the one of if we're ever truly "individual" or just thoughtlessly mimicking our influences, reminded me of this phrase: "creativity never happens in a vacuum". When it comes to things like art in its many forms (whether it be music, drawing/painting, acting, or something else), people will always derive inspiration and techniques from the people who inspire them and who they look up to, both consciously and unconsciously. However, at the same time, they manage to incorporate their own unique way of expressing themselves through art: art is also heavily influenced by the artist's unique perception of the world through their own two eyes and imagination, and that's what truly makes the work "theirs". Using my own drawings as an example, I can almost always spot echoes of Jamie Hewlett, Miyazaki Hayao, JG Quintel, and all the other artists that have inspired me since I was a kid. But at the same time, the specific way I look at a reference photo I'm using, the process in which I draw the lines and shapes on paper, and the specific features I choose to emphasize and how they are placed are all things I taught myself. I don't think anyone is ever truly "individual " as we are a mix of both the things we pull from the people, environment, and information around us, AND the unique way in which we decide to filter and use that information in our minds and actions. Although we will inevitably absorb things happening around us, every human is still unique, and the ways we mentally filter those things and put them into practice is something that varies greatly from person to person. Is what I'm saying making sense? Do you see echoes of your influences in your own art as well?
As an autistic person and somebody who is therefore "wired differently" I have my own weird experiences with the thought process and how I decide to use the information around me. One thing from my neurodivergence that's definitely a blessing is the fact that I'm less likely to mindlessly follow trends or do what's "popular" just because a bunch of others seem to think it's right. I'll only participate in a trend or popular practice if it's something that actually appeals to me as a person, not just because I want the social status or external validation of strangers. I also don't get things like small talk and probably never will. One of the most irritating things about small talk, at least to me, is that when somebody asks you "how are you?" or "how are you doing?" they don't ACTUALLY want to know or have an honest answer, they just wanna hear a pre programmed socially acceptable "I'm fine, you?" or "I'm good, thanks". Like, what's the point of even asking the question in the first place if you just wanna hear a meaningless, socially pressured answer? That whole ritual is pointless...I don't understand it and doubt I ever will. I still don't get how my neurotypical peers automatically have these long lists of unspoken and arbitrary social rules stored in their minds. A lot of them just don't make sense.
At the end of the day, I don't think it's truly possible to be 100% "individual" because we as humans are social creatures and it's only natural that we learn from each other and adapt to our circumstances. But at the same time, the way that we process and apply that information is often something unique to every person's individual mind and how they work.
Thank you for sharing such an interesting, fascinating, and stimulating topic! Things like these are always fun to think about and discuss because the way that we work and function as humans is infinitely complex and multifaceted. By thinking on questions like these, we discover more about ourselves in the process.
I hope you and Sarah and the doggos are doing well. I miss you and the guys a lot and look forward to the next time I get to rock out with you! 💖 Sending hugs from rainy and cold Washington State, as always. 😺
When you first posed the question of how do I respond to "what do you think?" My first reaction was a dramatic sigh and muttering "don't fuckin worry about what I think." (Generalization, not you 😂). So I felt very seen when I read your later suggestions.
What do I think?
I think if people spent a little less time worrying about that and a little more time worrying about themselves and their own contributions to society, the world as we know it might be a completely different place.
Lofty? Maybe. Oh well.
I remembered an experience I had in a 10 days silence meditation center retreat called Vipassana. You’re not allowed carrying cell phone, books, sketchbooks, talking or communicating with your roommates. At the first days, I felt sick by the noise inside me, emerging during the meditation practice, I felt physically like an addicted to all screen/information/social media, but as the days were passing, I started to observe/hear this voice inside me, clean from all extern life, and clear. I was able to finally recognize this part of me, my - “self”. I didn’t want to leave that place after 10 days, I wanted to be there, but the hard lesson were trying to achieve this place outside Vipassana retreat. To be in this state of mind colliding with this strange world, this experience lead me into C. G. Jung, and since then I’m diving regularly with my Analist into my dreams, paintings, woodcuts, texts and anything that comes out of me. Each expression I express somehow, is a spoon digging myself into my “self”...
I’ve been reading The Dark Books from Jung, about his experiences with his Active Imagination technique. I see as a way to find your inner voice and observe what’s your self and what’s from collective unconscious x what’s you feel about it this dialogue.
There are a few books that shaped my perspective and changed me in a profound way but also helped me understand telepathy, the concept of unity via the collective conscious as well as how that collective consciousness shapes our world.
Meditation indeed has all the answers we seek in this realm. When we meditate we connect to that source of all that is and the answers are there if we are open to receive them.
The books we read many times validate what we already know deep in our soul. That resonance we feel when reading a book, I feel, is just our higher self saying “ahhhhh, I remember that!” Soul recognition of a blueprint we created from source.
Before my foray into reading books outside of fiction I meditated for years. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I just would sit in silence and just let my mind go from thought to thought. Eventually the space between thoughts expanded. I would meditate for hours not realizing it had been hours. (I had the time lol)
During that time I began to read some books recommended by friends. The books I read aligned to the information that came to me during my meditation practice. They were a confirmation of sorts of that interconnectedness we have as humans our origins, our powerful innate abilities, and the cyclical nature of earth and society.
The books that aligned were of course “1984” (which reminds me of the “Nose Dive” episode of Black Mirror ) but other books including “the holographic universe” by Michael Talbot, “the ancient secret of the flower of life” by Drunvalo Melchizadek, “Many lives many masters” by Dr. Brian Weiss “Atlantis, Aliens Visitation and Genetic Manipulation by Michael Tsarion, “Communion” by Whitley Streiber, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach, “the world according to Mister Rogers” by Fred Rogers, “Life Colors” by Pamala Oslie, “Glynis Has Your Number” by Glynis McCant, and of course, “the law of one” and “the emerald tablets.”
Books are crucial to not only confirming what we already know on a soul level but understanding and shaping who we are today. These books helped me understand and connect with others on a deep soulful and sometimes telepathic level. Sometimes I don’t even need to ask “how are you?” I already know. But asking opens a door to vulnerability. Whether someone walks through that door is for them to decide. But I leave the space open for them.
My YouTube channel would not exist if not for those amazing authors who put their thoughts onto paper. Dang, I’m grateful.
Thank you, B. I appreciate your last bit about picking and choosing battles and the picking whether it’s worth dying upon said hill.
Felt like I needed to hear this in a sense. I was told last weekend that my ex wife is starting to go to a new church. No big deal I thought, having my 6-year-old child exposed to non-denominational faith is no big deal. She’ll grow out of it eventually. I then do some more digging on the name of the church (Hungry Generation) and I found it to be an evangelistic extremist cult that says things like, “be willing to surrender your lives,” and “you should be begging to give.” And then they also have 1+ hour long videos on YouTube where they supposedly cast out demons from people. Did I mention that this church is the one to diagnose their congregation with demons which requires a church-sponsored “deliverance” (I guess it’s a southern way of saying exorcism lol). If you are gay, it’s a demon! If you complain or ask questions of the pastor, it’s a demon/or the devil. Then they say things like “don’t worry about being financially poor for you are spiritually rich”. Total fucking cult mind control shit.
Anyways, I’ve mentally fought hard this week about insisting on my child not needing any sort of garbage being indoctrinated on her without her consent, yet there are no powers or limits that be that currently exist to do so. It’s a bummer but with time hopefully it is just a phase.
Damn. That was deeeep. I’m spinning. Talk about a mind fuck. Holy bananas. I need to re-read this about 5 more times at least. I’ve really got nothing of substance to add or suggest. That was a big takeaway for me. Do I always need to contribute to the conversation? Does what I have to say add value? Man. Wow. Head popped off.
Mindfulness is something I continuously work on within myself particularly in my communication within my relationships. I concur with meditation as a way to quiet the mind and dig deep within oneself. Neither are simple or easy. I’m definitely not always successful at either. But ya keep trying, right?!
Man. I’m still reeling over here in thought. Deep thoughts by Jack Handy. Ha! Thanks for a provocative post. ✌️
Great article thanks Brandon.
I recently wrote this one which alligns with yours in some ways. It was sparked by an increasing no of substack writers claiming that people are ripping off their ideas- I pose some possible reasons for many people having similar conclusions because they are working with similar input and have similar goals.
Heavy. Heavy stuff man. Three (or more)’s a crowd if you know what I’m saying. But it’s inspiring to know that someone that could be considered an “influencer”, in this day and age, could question his own individuality. I think so many of us struggle with this same sentiment. As someone who has always embraced individuality, it hasn’t always been so easy to avoid the status quo. In my youth, I tried to fit and blend in with everyone else. I went to school and church and blindly followed what I was taught. It wasn’t until my late teens that I even began to question anything. I was always labeled “different, eclectic, eccentric etc..” So there was always a sense of self that I wasn’t like everyone else. It wasn’t until my 20s that I began to embark on the journey to discover who I really was.
It has become harder the past few years because now it seems like all I ever do is think. Sometimes in our thoughts there’s no where to hide, no hole to crawl into and just die. You kind of have to face the man in the mirror so to speak. Listening to this voice and that voice and learning which ones to tune out and which ones to tune into can become a vicious cycle of sorts. I want to shut it all out but that can be a lot easier said than done. I have most recently, however, learned to choose happiness. It’s a totally conscious and aware process that doesn’t happen so naturally to someone with depression or anyone for that matter. But becoming a positive role model for myself has been challenging. Especially when I’m harder on myself than anyone else.( It’s mind blowing that being nice to myself and truly loving myself was something I had to do intentionally.) But actively deciding to choose a happier mindset can be affected by the outside world. I can let negativity throw me down the rabbit hole or I can decide that in this moment I am happy. I choose the latter. I’ve spent far too much time crying but I won’t let my tears fall in vain.
I think we could all learn from one another. What would the world look like if we all thought for ourselves? If we all questioned our own individuality? It’s crazy to think that in an instance your physical being could be somewhere but internally you’re somewhere else entirely wondering “is this me?”. It’s an out of body experience in itself. You’re objectively taking a step back and witnessing yourself from another point of view.
Thank you for always being so vulnerable and open and using your platform to connect with us here. I’m learning a lot about myself and the world around me. This brings me back to our discussion about being present a while back. Our thoughts can become a prison if we allow them to. So I think it’s important that each person determine for themselves how to move forward accordingly. I’m still learning about who the voice in my head is and maybe one day we’ll know one another more intimately(or not). But there’s much to be discovered and explored that can’t be overlooked. But if I’m a voice in anyone’s head I’m sure they fucking hate me lol. I do sometimes miss when I mindlessly did things without a single thought. Now there’s always some kind of internal dialogue or “buzzing” as you like to put it. As unsettling as it seems, I guess ignorance IS bliss. Returning to a simpler state of mind may be out of the question but progression is not. I enjoy this kind of thought provoking conversation.
Btw look at that BUTT! 🩰
My son and I used to call them parrot zombies.￼ It’s so frustrating! But also, how do we have compassion? We realize that certainty feels better than uncertainty.￼ We also become aware of our own parrot zombieness and strive to do better. ￼ Also, learn to ask better questions. Such as, what does it mean to know? ￼ When asked what I think, I sometimes respond with￼ “ I don’t know enough about it to feel qualified to have an opinion”. You know, try to lead the way. ￼Get everyone to question their own assumptions. ￼Like you always do for us Brandon, thank you 🙏🏼
Well that was a whole lot of brainpower I just used running on 4 hours of sleep, I may have just short circuited. Ultimately there is really not a lot of hills left for me to die on. I have spent most of my life with high emotions, a very stressful job and some very tumultuous relationships. Ever heard of adrenal fatigue? Lol I think the hardest thing to do in life is to keep your mouth shut. People dont know how to do that very well. There just arent things that carry enough worth to argue about. I appreciate all of your deep thoughts, you always make me think, even when it hurts :) xoxo
"To each, their own."
I'd also like to add to this pseudo-book club list, "In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed" by Carl Honore and "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy" by Jenny Odell. Like "The Shallows," "In Praise of Slowness" was written in what now seems like a slower time to me (2004) but so many of the topics it touches on have just become more pressing.
I find I'm more likely to have my own thoughts and opinions when I take some time to digest things mentally. Otherwise, I'm likely to default to the easiest or most top-of-mind thing, which is inevitably something an algorithm has suggested to me. So many of these books are about taking a breather... It's funny that having a lazy Sunday in can be a rebellious act.
I love this question. How often is our response clouded by thoughts like:
What will they think of me if I answer honestly?
Will my answer hurt someone's feelings?
What if their thoughts are totally different to mine?
What if their thoughts are totally opposed to mine?
Will it affect our friendship?
Will it jeopardise my job?
And yet, most of the time I have been very honest about what I think, because it makes life easier. I've always had a guiding philosophy of if you are always honest, you don't have to remember what you said. The skill then is more related to the delivery.
Brandon, you have a way of writing that is moving…so elegant. Thank you for being YOU!!
Wish I didn't have to buy 10 day pass to see the talk at South by Southwest. This is why Texans despise it. :( I did stock up on Madonna original and Tiny Dancer. Also, Solar Gate.
I'm leaving my lover because we don't speak the same music and art. I ordered a few pieces from Moonlight and am going to leave from ATX and head back to Costa Rica and open my yoga studio close to Playa Hermosa. Never left a good man and searched for a lifetime with someone else. Not everybody speaks your music and they want to Anna Moly Jedi mind f-ck you w sh-tty country music. I wanted to go to Boston for John Mayer but the solo concerts do become lonely. Can't stand having to pay for peoples tickets. My boyfriend can't afford me. My family saw it, I lied to myself. I ignored all the signs. He doesn't know Chris Cornell or Incubus?? Deal Breaker. Where all the songs come from, Isadore. Oshun
This is were self aware comes in to play: know thyself. This is also were compassion and forgiveness comes in to play: it's ok to be wrong. It's ok to change your opinion. Frankly, I hope to always ask "What's on your mind?" And god dammit, I hope I'm always asked, "What's on your mind?"