There are some artists that I wish I could resurrect just so I could smack the hell out of them. I would give Andy Warhol a good thrashing for ruining the concept of art. I would give Frank Sinatra a sock in the jaw for not recording more songs in his later years. Most importantly, I would beat the tar out of Somerset Maugham for being so right and so wrong.
I can’t believe that an artist must suffer. I want to believe that love is the best and most true inspiration for art. I want to live in a world where artists are the people who have the most loving lives. I want artists to be the self-actualized people. They have shelter, food, and acceptance, and only then can great art spring forth from their bodies. I want to have the hope that now that I have love in my life, I will still be an artist.
Then again, I know that he is right. How may stories of suffering artists do I need to read before I believe him? What about those artists that didn’t suffer? I don’t believe it. We just didn’t know about their suffering. The biographers were negligent and didn’t find it. Maybe the artist suffered so much in youth that there was enough art to last during the luxurious and indolent years.
Even darker, I know that everyone suffers. No one escapes this world unscathed. Give me an hour stuck in an elevator alone with anyone on this planet, and I will hear about their pain. Give me five minutes in a checkout line with most people, and I will learn their pain. Worst of all, if we were able to exchange our pain for anyone’s we would chose our own. No matter how blessed the life of that adversary may seem, that person is suffering and if I only knew, I wouldn’t even think of trading places.
I can’t believe in a world where all the relationships are like that. I have to believe there is that magic that happens when both people are equally in love with each other. I have to believe that there is a chance for me to be madly in love and be madly loved at the same time. I can’t bear to live in Somerset Maugham’s world.
Yet, the dark corners of my heart know he was right. Sure, he was a bitter old man, but he also lived longer than I have and lived more than I probably will live. He must be right because he’s a published author. I’m the one who is idealistic. Everyone should just settle. I should just be safe in the knowledge that when I’m madly in love, he is just allowing me to adore him and eventually I will lose him to the object of his adoration. I should just refuse to allow Charles Strickland in the house and let him die like the dog that he is. The only other route is the acid tonic before sleep and the four days of agony. Four days isn’t that long. God, I wish that I had never read his works.
I find myself poised at the beginning of another book by Somerset Maugham. It is called “The Summing Up” and I find myself paralyzed with fear. I have learned so much good from this author, but at the same time, I have learned to hate him and am filled with the desire to box him about the ears. Should I read it and risk more pain? Should I read it and learn more from this man?