I have often found that art is a very moving thing for me. Being an artist, I love things of color and texture and things that make some form of statement. The statement can be quite simple, such as “the beauty in our world” or it can be quite complex, such as “The pain of the survivor.” And it can be anywhere in between. What I find interesting is seeing what the artist has titled a piece, and comparing that to how that piece made me feel before I saw the title.
I will often view art from a great distance when it is on display. That way I can see it for what it means to me before going closer and looking at the title. Often, admitedly, the title will be quite a distance from what my emotional response has been to the piece. I think that this is why beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. What seems ugly to one person is gorgeous to another. I am one who sees what I call “gorgeous imperfections” in art. But that is also how I see people, so it really doesn’t surprise me that I have the perspective on art. I enjoy imperfections. Maybe it is because there is nothing truly perfect in our world. Maybe it is because it makes me feel like I belong, because I, too, have imperfections. Nonetheless, I appreciate them.
But what motivates an artist to NOT title their piece of work? I have always titled my art. I don’t know if that is simply because it was always expected of me, but I just always have. So if someone doesn’t, what does that mean? Does it mean that this piece is not worthy of a title in their opinion? Does it mean that they were too indecisive about it, so just left it empty of identity? Does it mean that they would prefer if someone else titled their work? Does it mean that they would like their work to be completely open to interpretation?
And this brings me to another aspect of life. Labels. These art titles are actually labels that are used to identify a piece of art. How often in life do people use labels inappropriately though? I personally don’t like labels being projected onto me. So I really try to not do that to other people. Sometimes a person just fits a label and does everything in their power to live up to that label. This makes it more difficult to not use a label when referring to them. But I don’t know how many others feel the same way that I do, that labels are often used in order to make the one labelling someone feel secure and often those labels have nothing to do with the person being labelled. As an example, people will call someone a “bleeding heart liberal” or a “fascist” or whatever else is used to describe someone’s socio-political views. Are these labels necessary? Are they not being quite divisive just by being used? And why do so many people need to live in an either/or, us/them mentality?
I think it has to do with the human need to “control or be controlled.” I remember a man I once knew calling himself a “faggot.” For him, it was a “reclaiming” of that term to take the power of that word back. For me, it was a shocking reminder of all the times in my youth that I was called that as a way of controlling me, beating me down, making me feel less than. It is not a term that I would ever use as a “reclaiming” of power for myself. I have my power. I don’t need a disgusting label to advertise that. And I would never think to adopt a label that some asshole had decided was appropriate for me when it was, in fact, NOT. That would make him win. For me it was about continuing on my journey just being the best me that I could be and allowing those folks using that label to “identify” me to just chuck off. I knew that it truly bothered them that I would remain “untitled” and not buy into their horse pucky.
Then, years later, when I began my relationship with my partner, a man, after 3 marriages to women, there were some who were arrogant enough to say stuff like, “Oh, I always knew he was gay.” To these people I have to say, “Screw you and your ridiculous labels.” It is a small minded person who feels that they have to label other people in order to make their world feel like it is all in order. I don’t think of myself as gay, so no one else has the right to call me that, plain and simple. That makes people feel uncomfortable. It is like I am somehow being uncooperative in their narrative and that offends them. Too bad. If someone wants to know what labels I use to self-identify, they can always ask me. I like conversations like that. And I do have a number of “titles” that I will give them that they can use to describe me. But if they are going to just jump to whatever one makes THEM comfortable, then we are not going to have a much different conversation, and not much of a relationship. And it does no one any good to say things like, “But that is just how the rest of the world works. So you are going to have to get used to that.” Nope. I do not have to and I will ALWAYS make it clear when someone has used the wrong descriptor for me. Furthermore, none of the descriptors need to actually say anything about my sexual practices. That habit people have of using labels for that is bullshit. After all, what if my partner dies? What if I then end up with a woman down the road? Then what? MIND BLOWN! People don’t think that one can shift energies in one direction or another at will. But I can. We all can if we desire to. Some days I like chicken, some days I like pork, some days I like hamburger, some days I like salad, some days I like sausage, some days I like custard pie, some days I like Spiced Rum, some days I like tea, but I do like coffee every day. The fact that I like sausage in no way prohibits me from also enjoying custard pie. Tomorrow is never promised to us. I have learned through life that what we make of our tomorrows is completely up to us. So if suddenly the menu changes, then I have different choices to make in life. I adapt. If it was not for adaptation we, as a species, would never have survived the Ice Age. So I adapt…sometimes daily, depending on circumstances. Today I might be a shaman. Tomorrow I might be an artist. The day after that I might be a writer. The day after that I might be a construction worker. We are so much more than just the labels that we put on ourselves or that others try to put on us. So I decided that I would forever be “untitled” and let the social panic be what it may.