(Just one moment)

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Snippet No. 15: Scriptlessness: An Underrated Issue Facing Artists (+going on break!)

I learned the term “scriptlessness” recently and realized it was why I started the Artists on the Verge channel. Here’s part of the video script:

There seem to be two narrative about being an artist. You’re probably familiar with some version of both of them: 

Narrative No. 1: You are a talented and/or hard working artist so you get your big break (which happens while you’re still young, particularly if you’re a performer and certainly if you’re a woman), and then you’re a respected artist who gets to make art for the rest of their life.

Narrative No. 2: You’re a parasite on society – go get a real job. 

Both these narratives make it very difficult for artists to understand what’s actually going on in their lives because neither really fits most artist’s reality.  

This is “scriptlesness.” 

Scriptlesness is when you don’t have a way of understanding and talking about what’s happening to you in a way that helps you find meaning or catharsis. 

The phenomenon is most neatly described by psychological research showing that people who experience unrequited love are likely to get over it to a degree that the objects of unrequited love are not – and the explanation for this is the fact that there is a host of music, and stories, and poetry that deals with the plight of the spurned lover but not much that deals with the ambiguous experience of the person who had to reject someone. It’s like we need our plight to be seen and transformed into a satisfying narrative, via art, in order to be able to resolve the pain. 

So, that’s why, during the pandemic when everyone had the time, I started collecting the stories of artists to see if I could eventually piece together a new narrative. Basically, I want to create a script around being an artist that’s actually helpful – that doesn’t drive people into the arts education industrial complex chasing an unlikely dream but also doesn’t degrade people for wanting to center art in their lives. For now, I’m trying to change the script by talking to other artist, sharing my own story honestly, and doing research into the philosophy, anthropology, and economics of the arts. Eventually, I hope  that, together, we can write a new script around what it means to be an artist and, therefore, what the value of art is to society. 

– part of the video script

Source: David Graeber’s /Bullshit Jobs/ which cites a a paper called “Unrequited Love: On Heartbreak, Anger, Guilt, Scriptlessness and Humiliation” (R. Baumeister, S. Wotman, A. Stillwell.)