30 December 2006

Retrospective 2000

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 6:39 pm


Keeping up with this blog has played hell with my journal-writing. The end of the year being upon us, I thought I’d go back to my old journals and see what I was thinking about at the end of the year. These are journal entries, not meant for public consumption. But since there’s not much public visiting this blog, I don’t think I’ll be exposing myself too dramatically.

At the end of 2000 I was thinking about starting a kind of psychological service, called the Salon Postisme, for people who wanted to get different…



Difference is always fighting against overdetermination. It isn’t always clear whether difference can be achieved, or even imagined.

The clientele would probably include the following kinds of people:

· Want a change but don’t know what it is.

· Already different but feeling uncomfortable.

· Already pursuing difference and frustrated in making it happen.

· Want to do difference but afraid.

· Interpersonal difficulties in difference versus togetherness.

· Planning a sabbatical.

· Planning retirement.

My job: to help people identify, pursue and maintain difference. Establish a personal relationship that supports differentiation. I cannot know these people’s hearts, but I can interact in a way that:

· Is not paranoia-inducing – not judgmental, not coercive to sameness,

· Is not alienating – takes the client seriously, understands,

· Is influenced by the difference that is in the client.

At the same time, I want to promote a broader agenda of difference. This can include deconstruction, strands, operators, orientations, moods, discourses, desires.


I never started the Salon Postisme, though I thought about it for a long time. In fact, I still think about it. The main character in each of my two novels is a Proprietor of a fictional version of the Salon. Is there a need for such a service? Would anyone come? Even if it was free?




  1. Difference in itself as an objective was studied by a friend of mine at the University of Amsterdam. He called it the factor of Arts. Being an Artist is being different, creating what was not before and what surprises, because it is not following rules or following togetherness. (those were the two other personality factors he measured).

    I liked to think about Art in science. Not as the object of science, but as a means.


    Comment by Odile — 30 December 2006 @ 9:22 pm

  2. Art is subject to imitation, competition, the comfort of participating in a particular “school” or “genre” of art, the desire to please the audience, the pursuit of fame and money, and other factors that inhibit difference. In part that’s why Hollywood movies seem so noncreative, even with all the money and talent at the moviemakers’ disposal. Artists, being open to the world around them, might even be more susceptible to the societal pulls toward sameness. One has to resist the pull of the world and of the self toward the comfortable and the known — not just in art but in most areas of life. This is the kind of psychology that interests me.


    Comment by ktismatics — 31 December 2006 @ 6:40 am

  3. I agree with you that Art has been captured into organisations that try at the best to promote creativity. I have visited the Dutch Academy of Arts since I knew a teacher who invited me to an exhibition. I do not think it is impossible to create difference in such a setting. I saw novel ideas being worked out.
    The ‘arts factor’ is about the desire to be different. The drive. Apparently my friend, a psychologist I do not see currently because I mooved away from the city to get children, found that it is a personality factor. He found strong evidence for the existence of such a factor.


    Comment by Odile — 1 January 2007 @ 8:16 pm

  4. I agree that some people are more inherently creative than others. What I’m responding to is the pressure to conform, to adapt, to achieve recognition that squeezes creativity into the same old channels. Creativity, like intelligence or aggression or any other human capability, can be turned to many purposes. Television advertisements are often more creative than the programs themselves. The book Guns, Germs and Steel contends that inventors are often motivated not by money or fame but by curiosity. Typically it’s someone other than the inventor who reaps the rewards of innovation. When we become more interested in reaping the rewards of innovation than in the act of innovating, then we’re in trouble as individuals and as a species. We’re also in trouble when we’re more interested in consuming innovations than in appreciating them for their own sakes.


    Comment by ktismatics — 2 January 2007 @ 9:18 am

  5. What about the desire for an artist to connect his/her creativity with others?

    It seems to me that the imaginative individual is in a bit of a quandry: Isolate yourself as a non-conformist for sake of individual creativity….or create for the sake of others and risk slipping into a conformist mentality where creativity is sacrificed.


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 4 January 2007 @ 3:04 am

  6. An excellent point, and a dilemma truly. You propose two motivations: to create for your own individualistic sake, or to create for the sake of others. The Salon would encourage a third motivation: to create for the sake of the creation itself. What might you be able to bring into the world, even if it doesn’t give you pleasure to do it, and even if nobody seems to care one way or the other? This is the “keep your eye on the ball” school of creation. Don’t think about your personal stats or pleasing the audience; thing about the thing itself. I suggest this is the “elohimic ethos” of the creator in Genesis 1: to create not for self-glorification nor for the sake of mankind, but for the creation’s own sake — to be able to look at it and see that it’s good.


    Comment by ktismatics — 4 January 2007 @ 8:24 am

  7. The third alternative is truly interesting and intriguing….but it still runs the risk of isolation. And it also begs the question of where the motivation comes from – where do I get the impulse to create for art’s sake??? What if I don’t want to create for art’s sake? What if I want to create for me? Or for someone else? Or for the greater glory of God? Is any particular motivation inherently better than another?

    Perhaps there is a moral element to this discussion, as well….


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 4 January 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  8. I agree that isolation is a risk. The services of the Salon Postisme would include dealing with this isolation. There’s a fine line between the isolated creative genius and the isolated misfit loser. How long can you hang on without recognition? What if pursuing your creatorly work takes you ever farther away from the mainstream? What is your source of self-esteem? This is Salon psychology in part.

    As for motivation, one of the reasons I never did the Salon is that I’m not sure whether anyone really wants to pursue creation for its own sake. But whatever your motivation, as you go down the path trying to create in the face of obstacles, you get to certain crises of motivation. What if the people I’m doing this for don’t care about it? What if I achieve success according to my own standards but everybody else thinks it sucks? What if I believe I’m working to the glory of God but God seems to remain silent and the church thinks I’m going astray? Helping the client sort out motivations is another mission of the Salon.

    What’s your thought on the moral element?


    Comment by ktismatics — 4 January 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  9. Well, the reason I ask about the moral element is because when we start talking about what is the best reason/motivation for creating/inventing it almost seems to take a moral tone: Is it morally superior to create for creation’s sake? Or is it better to create for others? Or for the greater glory of God? etc….


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 6 January 2007 @ 2:29 am

  10. It’s an interesting question. Is someone who strives for true excellence as a basketball player following a higher moral calling than someone who just does it for fun? Is a lawyer who strives for justice morally superior to someone who uses every skill at his disposal to get his client off the hook? I have my biases, but it seems to me that creators should work these things through for themselves. Perhaps part of the creator’s job is to arrive at your own standards of creatorly excellence, not just in achievement but also in motivation.


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 January 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  11. Good thoughts….I guess it sounds moral if a person begins to talk about the best motivation for anyone in regards to a particular pursuit…..I do think much of a person’s motivation needs to be worked out by themselves. And perhaps it is an ongoing process. As we change as people and grow/mature (or digress!) our motivations seem to change….

    Hhhhmmmmmm….personally I would look at my life and say that at some times my motivations for doing things were certainly “better” than others. And I mean this in a very moral sense. A kind of crass example: A nice guy who really cares about a nice girl and wants to get to know her probably has better motivations for dating than does the guy who just wants to have sex – or even a predator who wants to abuse the girl. It would be hard to find a person who would find all of these motivations on equal moral ground…..so, perhaps there is some universality to motivations….

    What do you think??? From your life would you say some of your motivations were “better” (in a moral sense) than at other times?


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 9 January 2007 @ 2:15 am

  12. I hope there’s still a difference to be found between the excellent and the mediocre, between the excellent and personal taste. If you hear the lure of excellence and heed its call — is it a sign of your own superiority, or is it a discipline you practice, or is it just a personal quirk?

    Sex seems to be a socially-accepted motivation for casual dating — like watching an entertaining but not very challenging TV show. Is the earnest and persistent pursuit of the moral high ground “better” than just being a generally nice guy who’s out for a good time without hurting anybody? How about the earnest and persistent pursuit of excellence in writing, in reading, in scholarship, in anything? Do the categories “good” versus “excellent” still mean anything, or is it just a matter of personal preference?


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 January 2007 @ 7:37 am

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