I love the psychological and social dualities associated with acts of creation and acts of negation: it’s great to build things, but it’s also incredibly liberating to let them go by destroying them.
One of the better known examples of this is the Buddhist sand mandala, a beautiful work of spiritual art, painstakingly created, colored sand grain by colored sand grain, over days or even weeks . . . and then ritually destroyed, with the mixed grains of sand ultimately tossed into a river, returning them to the amorphous, impermanent state from which we all emerge, and to which we all will (physically) return, regardless of our spiritual beliefs regarding our non-corporeal selves.
I wrote a novel in the late 1990s in which this concept of agonizing creation followed by rapid destruction featured heavily in the plot arc. We become better people, I think, when we have the wisdom to annihilate the things that needlessly tie us, through habit, or nostalgia, or inertia, to yesterday. Tomorrow is always a more exciting place to be anyway, right?
For perspective, I was a coveted “content provider” in the earliest days of the web, when most of you either hadn’t found your way online yet, or were still piddling about in the AOL or CompuServe or MySpace kiddie pools. I have long enjoyed the sort of Google-attracting internet presence that lots of folk work hard (and fail) to achieve, in both indie and commercial settings, where, sadly, they often sell their creative souls to unworthy masters in the hopes of attaining some small degree of passing notoriety.
While it has been satisfying, on some plane, to know that I have achieved some degree of internet success and notoriety, it has never changed my life in any meaningful ways, and it never make my family love me any more than they already did, and it didn’t guarantee me any more cultural permanence than a sand mandala can expect. So for those who are trendy internet flavors du jour today: Congrats — but know that your rankings and traffic and hits today are likely to mean anything to you or do anything for you, five years from now. And if that’s the case, isn’t it better to control how your public persona expires, rather than leaving it lingering like a wraith in some dusty and forgotten virtual limbo?
I think so, and that largely explains why in 2010 I shutdown my old personal website, removing nearly 15 years worth of high-traffic generating internet articles and artifacts, some of which had provided me, in their time, with a high degree of web prestige. This also explained the demise of Indie Albany in 2012, which I had established two years earlier as a haven for writers who didn’t want their words to be owned by others, nor co-opted by commercial interests not of their own choosing. It was a good model. It ran its course. And now it is gone.
The psychological energy associated with such concerns can now be directed toward other, more productive things. Or toward building a new sand mandala, if that’s what feels good tomorrow. I’m actually now enjoying having vaporized my old online presence as much as I once enjoyed creating it. This website is where my creative heart beats today, though I have no expectation (nor should you) that it will always be so. We’ll ride this wave as long as it carries our weight.
So enjoy it all while you can.
Because you never know when The Destroyer might show up again . . .
11 thoughts on “The Destroyer”
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Even the amorphous had to have been formed; all disorder, somehow imposed.
Calling forth The Destroyer may well represent an artist’s profound frustration at the sudden (often, subconscious) recognition that he cannot be first cause–that, at least in this life, he is doomed to mere creativity.
Always a rearranger; never a maker.
Since other good folks have already covered the more thoughtful end of the comment spectrum, I will simply add:
Thank you for flipping the switch on the Kinks portion of my mental jukebox for the day. That is all.
The impermanence of most communications vectors was driven home to me the day I slid a day-old copy of The Auburn Citizen into my parrot’s cage and he pooped on my byline.
I had a site – pages and pages – all gone now. Vanished. It bothered me at first, and then I thought – let it go – let it be ephemeral.
Much of what was on the site is backed-up, clearly that which I valued the most is backed-up. Ultimately it was the act of creating it that gave me the most satisfaction.
Allowing something we create to be ephemeral places emphasis on the act of creation and creativity itself rather than the finished product or object.
It also places emphasis on the moment and perhaps helps us learn to be in the moment and appreciate the moment we are in.
Something to muse….something for he Muse.
Perfectly said, Alison. Thank you.
You’re welcome 🙂 Been reading a bit of your former blog on the WayBack Machine. Enjoyed the Spam poems – a pleasant bit of clever and light reading.
The Internet never forgets…
Oh, I know it’s still out there, B. In addition to the Wayback Machine, my stuff has been stolen and copied time and time again over the years . . . most of my more significant pieces exist on multiple sites at this point, few of them with my consent.
The information from my site is still on my hard drive, too, if I wanted it or needed at some point . . .
So if someone wants to find most of it, they can. But I’m not putting any psychic, spiritual, intellectual, or physical energy into it anymore.
People can take photos of a sand mandala and see what it looked like while it existed, and say that they own the essence of the mandala.
But the monks who made it know better . . . . when they destroy it, it’s gone, copies and representations be damned . . .
Thanks for this B, found some pages I thought were gone forever – someone had mentioned this WayBack Machine, though not by name or URL, rather by guilt.