Bobby Mars

August 23, 2023

I'm gonna be sick. You know that feeling when the nausea starts building and you realize you’ll need to vomit, but you try to deny it and hold on a little longer? If you just ignore the nausea, you think, it’ll subside. Eventually, however, sudden reality forces itself upon you, and despite your aversion, you must summon the will to vomit.

That’s the irony, puking takes effort. It’s an unpleasant experience in every regard, one the body simply forces upon you, and yet you still must actively expel the offending substance. You must contract your stomach and force it up and out. It doesn’t just happen automatically—it takes will to do it.

The cold sweat hits you in a cathartic wave, the deed is done, homeostasis achieved. You can move on with your life and resume your day (or your night, if this is one of those drunk vomiting situations, the worst of all). Perhaps you’ll even eat again later. Bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, or so your mom says. Something starchy and neutral. There’s always another meal.

Artists have the rare misfortune of vomiting on a daily basis. The creative act requires that we chew up the unsavory parts of ourselves, the parts that we simply can’t digest properly, and expel them into a new form. Art making comes from nausea, from the inability to reconcile meaning with experience. From the failure to process what has happened, and the need to wrestle with it in a new form.

Something happened to you, one way or another, and it doesn’t sit quite right. Your stomach cramps, you can’t digest it, you can’t move on. You must expel it from yourself into physical form, something partially changed from what it was. You examine it, trying to determine the cause (probably the midnight shots of absinthe followed by a keg stand). Inevitably, you flush it away.

That’s the real value of selling work for artists—sure, money is great, but it’s torture staring at your vomit all day. As important as the creative act itself is finding a means to get rid of it, to get the objects moving out of the studio and into the world. Sell them, give them away, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The deed is not complete until you watch the refuse swirl down the drain.

Many bemoan the current state of the art world. Leftists bitch about how the museums and galleries are too capitalistic. Right wingers bitch about how no one makes beautiful marble statues anymore. Neither get it, both miss the point. The inevitable cycle of creation and destruction that happens in the life of each individual artist applies to the whole group as well.

The current state of the art world is this anticipatory pre-vomit stage—a glut of half formed work, a mass of undigested particles. No one really loves it, no one really gets it, everyone’s a critic. Eventually, they’ll have to puke, but this won’t happen automatically. It takes will to do so, to realize the inevitable and just vomit so you feel better already. Yet, it always comes, and there’s no use fighting it forever.

So just throw up already and get it over with. You don’t like the current state of creative culture? Then just throw up, purge yourself, make a new start. Stop doing the same things over and over again expecting it to be different this time. Nothing will change until you summon the will to do so—until you find the impetus to expel the old, see what went wrong, and make something new.

Now excuse me while I go throw up. Literally. I’m sick today.

xoxo Bobby Mars