How wasting time helped me to overcome dire straits
by Volodymyr Bilyk
Few months ago, during a down time, I caught myself on a thought that my creative ways had gone way too predictable. I was either drawing some calligraphic oddities or writing some yo-yo stuff. Again and again. It was almost mechanic. Sometimes I did it just because I could do it and not because there was some sort of an artistic intent. Everything was this and that, so and so. Everything was going according to the plan. Which was:
- (by chance) get into “artistic mood”;
- do some art stuff;
- be pleased (merely, barely, probably, perhaps, approximately) with the result;
- get back to the real life;
- pretend it is OK;
- repeat at will once in a while.
The more I think about it – more wrong it gets. But sometimes it happens that way. Especially when you’re using art as a form of escapism. For a while it was considerably fun. It was a relief. But it’s a ride without a thrill with no stakes or consequences. In other words – bollocks. And that was a thing that bugged me. I’m not interested in art as escapism. Semi-literate majority of Ukrainian artists do it that way. Even when they tackle serious themes – it’s all about joyfully exploiting not exploring. So for me – doing art as an escapism is an insult. It is no good. It’s a waste of time and skills. If I want to jerk off – I will not use such substitute activities.
For me – art is the opposite of escapism – it is about getting real. As real as it gets. It’s about getting hurt and going on because otherwise why bother. It’s about “boldly go where no one has ever gone before”. It’s about complete and uncompromising devastation of oneself for sake of a revelation, a discovery…
On the other hand – I know exactly why this happened to me. The thing is – I can’t commit fully to making art. It’s not even an option for me. I have a job so I can be as financially independent as possible but not much else. As a responsible person – I tend to take my job seriously. That leaves less time for pondering. And even less time for doing something thought-through. (And still, with all that, I can’t leave this piece-of-shit country for good moneywise.) And I still need to get some rest in-between to stay at least somewhat sane throughout this ordeal. Such an extreme exhaustion combined with other frustrations made me longing unconsciously for some form of relief. No matter how compromised. That’s how I’ve got to the bottom.
It was rather irritating. But back then it was curiously incoherent. I live in an environment that almost tells you “Why don’t you give up and do yourself a favor?”. In spite of it – I was trying to do something meaningful. Even though it was completely on inertia. And yet I felt like I was about to turn into a tomato can in a dire need to be kicked around senseless. I’ve felt a hollow echo inside of me. There was too much bad grey. The tune of the moment was “Your exotic gestures are not in demand. Get over it. Submit to the great God of Bland”.
After a while – it turned out to be quite inspiring. In an elaborate manner of telling the world around me “screw you” I was desperate to find another way of doing things. Usually that means to get utterly wasted. But that time it led me to the infamous Wiki Wormhole. I was riding joyfully through the random articles for about six or seven hours a day. I was reading about various things – from obscure lost films to some island nations and aerial phenomena. Anything, especially something out of my areas of interest. Basically I’ve spent all my spare time consumed by the Wormhole. My eyes were burning, I was tired and relatively exhausted by the whole experience. But it was a bliss.
About a week later I’ve happened to come across an article titled “Ojibwe Writing Systems”. And it was a shot in the arm I was waiting for.
It wasn’t like it was any good by any means. It is standard by-the-numbers wiki-article. There were so many insignificant things unworthy of noting – historic background, specifics of grammar, word order. Mumbo-jumbo greek. There were several charts describing various functional parts of language. Such as short and long vowels and many others. Example words were nothing special – “town”, “hires”, “snow”, “runs along”. But the correlation between the examples was cathartic in its off-kilter nature. It was image-inducing and thought-provoking. Words were not weird as they are. They were weird when you read them through. The juxtaposition of examples was making an incredibly magnetic imagery. That was the moment when the veil of dull fell off and the clout of something hit me. I’ve finally felt a relief.
I started to screencap various words of interest until I’ve found myself snapping something that looked like a poem. After a while I revisited those snaps and found out that there a lot accidental poems out there. Even within the limitations of the text taken out of the context – most of them had a story to tell. Think about “Tongue – wall – whirlwind” or “Snowshoe – goes away – spoon who?”. What you get out of it is ridiculous but nevertheless effective. The rest is something you already know.
You can check those found poems right here (insert link for found poems https://www.utsanga.it/bilyk-found-poems/).