vincent

Reviewers and critics around the world told me not to love Vincent.

He’s overdrawn. Even hysterical. In key parts of his story, he drags and deflects and assaults those around him. He’s too creative. People don’t understand what he’s all about.

Great artists are not peaceful souls. – from the movie Loving Vincent

Critics said such things about Vincent van Gogh in his day. Why should Loving Vincentthe first fully painted movie about his death, escape such harsh judgment?

Humans haven’t changed much since Van Gogh’s day, have they? Nobody appreciated Vincent’s talent when he was alive. In less than a decade, he produced 826 paintings.

He only sold one during his short life.

And so it goes with the most creative movie I’ve seen in recent memory.

When I landed in Los Angeles for my soul-feeding time with Debra Fetterly, one of the first things I said was, “I want to see Loving Vincent. It’s playing in Pasadena.”

Debra, one of my most adventurous friends, was a little underwhelmed at first. “I’ve read a lot of mixed things about that movie. A lot of people don’t like it.”

In the end, we decided to experience it for ourselves. Because you know what?

We let others draw too many lines around our experiences today.

Instead of getting out and forming our own opinions about things, we let ratings and reviews and critics tell us how we should experience life. And in the process, WE MISS SO MUCH WORTHY LIVING.

Debra and I were glued to the riotous screen for almost two hours. When the movie finished, we sat through the credits. Our mouths were still open as the lights came up. Once we were home, we googled information on how the film makers oil-painted an entire movie. We gobbled up information about featured characters from his paintings. The next day, we were STILL discussing Loving Vincent.

I’m SO GLAD I chose to experience something that underwhelmed others. Time after time, I find when I ignore internet noise, discarded treasures smash the boundaries of my life.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU EXPERIENCED SOMETHING OTHERS PANNED?

Want to see how my unwillingness to go along with the crowd impacts my writing?

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If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. – Haruki Murakami

Maybe Murakami’s quote applies to everything. Perhaps I’ll out myself as a hopeless snob. If I lose a few readers or start a debate, GREAT. I’m typing what I have to say, because I can’t sit on it any longer.

I am sick of the simpering sameness that permeates all creative forms today. From the same few music acts whose auto-tuned voices are beamed at me everywhere I turn/click/read to our dismal summer movie offerings to ‘must read’ book lists that are all composed of the same PR’d-to-death tomes, I am an isolated, dejected weirdo who must not like anything popular or socially accepted.

What bothers me about this isn’t that social media seems to have turned our entire society into a herd of sheep, or that I feel like I have been sent on an endless trip back to high school where nobody ever graduates, grows up or evolves. No. I can deal with those things.

It bothers me to see myself becoming what I despise.

“I’m not going to see that exhibit, because I won’t like it. I mean, come ON.”

“This book? It just looks like something that’ll be a waste of time. Don’t ask me how. I just know.”

“That guy wants to be my Facebook friend? Didn’t he crank call me in 11th grade, say he had 10 inches he wanted to slide in and hang up? What a loser.”

“Well, if everybody’s seeing the latest comic-book-come-to-life movie, I guess I should watch it on my flight instead of this art film.”

Pride. Pride. Pride.

I’ve always been proud of how willing I am to experience things, even when I don’t always know how to categorize them. Especially when I think I may not like them. I am dismayed to see pieces of myself being absorbed by the ravenous cancer that is SAME. Bits of my brain are dissolving into the ocean of popularity. Every wave drowns my own ability to create. My Creative Tank is clogged with stale plot lines set to recycled tunes.

This week, my series will be about what I’ve done to challenge my own thinking, a desperate grab to fill my Creative Tank.

What do you do when you catch yourself becoming one of the crowd, Dear Reader?

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This post is part of a series. To read the first post, click here: Desperately Seeking a Shepherd; to read the second post, click here: College Football? What a Waste of Time!; to read the third post, click here: Promiscuous Read: The Plover by Brian Doyle; to read the fourth post, click here: Sex With Cars; to read the fifth and final post click here: A Sea of Voices From The Past.