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February 5, 2024
I find it fascinating when the artistic pendulum swings back.
The creator flies freely to and fro under the action of gravity, and after enough time passes, something shifts. The narrative about their work starts moving in the opposite direction. What started out as bad ages gracefully into something good.
Consider obscure filmmakers notable for their campy aesthetics, technical errors, unsophisticated effects and meandering stories. Most of them fade into oblivion after their time has passed.
At the start of their careers, the work is so bad, it’s bad. And it remains that way forever. But for some artists, over time, their niche earns a cult following.
What started out as too eccentric and subversive to be appreciated by the general public, eventually generates fan devotion. What failed to be widely commercially successful, eventually becomes its own cottage industry.
The box office flop that lacks critical acclaim almost says to itself:
Just you wait. The pendulum will swing back in my direction. Public interest will renew. I am misunderstood, under appreciated and too far ahead of my time now. I know I’m radical by the standards of the current epoch, and more characteristic of a later age. But history will be kind to this. Maybe one day my will be so bad, but there will be so much of it, that it become good.
Hell, there are filmmakers out there whose names were so obscure, newspapers didn’t even run an obituary about them when they died.
Ed Wood, for example, who directed tons of low budget science fiction, crime and horror films, was posthumously awarded as the worst director of all time. Twenty years after his passing, a reverend created a legally recognized religion with the filmmaker as its official savior.
Founded as a joke, the real church now boasts almost four thousand baptized followers. What’s more, there are numerous award winning biopic, books and documentaries about his life.
The pendulum swung back. The mountain of work can’t be denied. Because the real artistry is the sovereignty he had over his work, in addition to the work itself.
Since that creator was so devoted, so earnest, so consistent in execution, so inflamed with a desire to use the work to bring joy and meaning to the world, metrics like quality are irrelevant. It’s like the more art they make, the less it matters how good or bad it is.
That’s not the point anymore. They have transcended classical metrics. They’ve created their own standards. The narrative is about something bigger. Individual expressions are less important than the overall body of work. They aggregated enough failures, and sooner or later, they possessed so much experience, that success or failure was neither here nor there.
It’s a math equation.
Effort, when multiplied by time, and raised to the power of passion, equals fulfillment.
It’s an undeniable outcome. Nobody can take that away from you.
How bad are you willing to be today? Are you committed to playing a long enough game?
This type of mindset requires truckloads of patience and faith, but it has a profound impact on the way you go about your day.
See, when you realize that life is long and you’re not planning on going anywhere, then suddenly events like rejection, disappointment and failure don’t sting as much. Or at least, they don’t sting for as long. You bounce back faster.
Oh right, you remind yourself, this is all part of it. Just another brick in the wall, as the song lyric goes. The construction process has begun, and any negative experience becomes the unit that, together with the others, acts as a shield against a hostile reality.
Try and wait it out.
There is no guarantee you will develop a cult following. Nobody’s going to congratulate you on sticking around, at least not for many years.
Maybe the pendulum will swing back in your direction, maybe not. This isn’t about the illusion of legacy and being remembered and leaving something behind.
This is about the cash value of sticktoitiveness, and how makes your life better each day.
Are you committed to playing a long enough game?