An Uneasy Cohabitation

This posting is about art and alcohol as a saudade. That being a Portuguese word meaning a sadness for the lacking something that you never did or could have. Art and alcohol are both palliatives to, but not cures for this social anxiety which is this feeling that you are not really liked or respected by your peers, coworkers, &c. And to get them to like/respect you, you can pretend do be more like them than you really are. Alcohol makes this accepting of false acceptance easier to pull off, but it costs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You are never really sure which, because you were drunk.

If peer-bonding is difficult enough, pair-bonding is worse by orders of magnitude being by definition, but not so in practice, exclusive and permanent. And the extent to which alcohol appears to help, but actually hinders, is magnified correspondingly. no doubt, since you have your own horrors to recall here, I won’t regale you with mine. Except to say that wearing a mask at a party is one thing, being trapped in a disguise for years is another.

Alcohol is a self medication for that anxiety, the fallout of an unsuccessful adolescence. It’s the failing of the test of acceptance in Freud’s spheres of work and love; a failing and a losing out on the Gemütlichkeit of both peer and pair bondings. The simple facts of this drawing’s life are; no social, no symptom. It’s about giving up what could be good, rewarding, or fun about polite company to avoid revisiting all that’s been not so. Saudade.

The drawing makes concrete a fantasy; the uneasy cohabitation of a desired imaginary and a tolerated actual. The table-for-two scene is the same in the drawing and the painting in the drawing, but the lover is only in the painting, imagined by the imaginary painter. I created him to create her. The paradox of it is for the artist, being with the desired fantasy would require a drink, yet to pour himself that drink he needs to invert, abstract, deny than desired fantasy. Basically neither alcohol nor art, either together or separately will bring this fantasy to life in either the drawing or the real world..

Alcohol works sometimes. With it you can palliate the symptoms (the nausea or the angst, if you are of a philosophical-literary sort) that happens when you try to enjoy the good parts of a memory and/or fantasy at the same time as trying to deny the bad parts. With it you can be social. you can relax over a couple of beers with friends. You can share wine as a ‘romantic’ way to get to better know someone you’d like know better. Friends and a lover can be good to be with. Even I have some good memories, among the bad. Saudade.

Art can, too, function as a socializing mask that can be liked and respected and you with it. But art is a better ‘cure’ than alcohol. Yes, behind that mask, you are still alone; and therefore the person you’ll be relaxing with, getting to know better is just yourself, who are unlike a friend who can leave or a lover who can turn on you. Art is also an intoxicant, but it’s just the opposite of losing yourself in alcohol (or love?) With it, if you are lucky, persevere or both, you can find yourself instead. Art is more a mirror than a mask, more a window than a wall.