Monday, February 9, 2009

This is gonna sound counter intuitive...

Last year I felt bad that I hadn't really done any work to pursue cartooning as a career. I made a Jonathan Winters quote as my motto- "if you ship hasn't come in, swim out to it."

I sent columns and cartoons to 8 or 9 syndicates and got rejected by every single one. Boy was I discouraged. This on about the time that I backed out of writing and cartooning for our small local weekly newspaper too (long story, kinda personal) gist of it is it was a hard time for me.

Now realistically I understand that this was only one attempt and most successful professional writers and cartoonists wage campaign after campaign for years before they hit get anywhere. I also have come to understand that most of them also have day jobs. But recently I've been reading "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and I think I have a very different outlook than I used to. (I know, an existentialist psychiatrist's tale of NAZI concentration camp survival- kind of heavy reading for an aspiring cartoonist right? We're all supposed to be zany and light hearted, right?)

One is finding meaning. I've come to believe that any good artist, and certainly me as a high school Art teacher has the same role as that of a good psychologist- "The logotherapist's role consists of widening and broadening the visual field of the patient (viewer/reader/student) so that the whole spectrum of potential meaning becomes conscious and visible to him."

I know, profound, huh?

Anyway, I also found something else very meaningful in Dr. Frankl's masterpiece:
"Don't aim at success- the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than one's self or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success:you have to let it happen by not caring about it... listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go carry it out to the best of your knowledge... -in the long run- success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it."

So in other words, I'm going to start using reverse-psychology on the universe. The freedom is that there's no pressure. I only cartoon what I want to when I want to and I totally get to cartoon however I want to. Cartooning for cartoons sake. Kind of like art for art's sake. The down side is that posting these cartoons here for free all the time is a lousy business model. I only hope that I can forget to think about how I'm trying to play this sly trick on the universe in hopes that God will reward me by making me an obscenely rich and successful writer and cartoonist someday.

Of course, Frankl also really emphasized that bit about it being "in the loooong run," He actually wrote, "Then you will live to see that in the long run---in the long run, I say!---" and between having adult A.D.D. and the fact that my original campaign of mailing cartoons to syndicates was pretty much my version of a midlife crisis- it's REALLY hard to have the patience for anything real long range. It may be pretty tough to forget to think about how I'm trying to convince Providence that I really couldn't care less. Like a watched pot not boiling, I may have to keep peeking over my shoulder to make sure God's noticing how much I don't care if I ever get to write or cartoon for a living, let alone win a bunch of awards and sell a bunch of books.

This dilemma is what Frankl would refer to as hyper-intention, which is where you want something too much so you end up making it impossible to ever get and hyper-reflection, which is a neurosis where you can't stop thinking about something. These what he contends is the cause of most sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Ah ha, but see, writing this somewhat satirical blog entry poking fun at myself for being so over analytical about it all is what he'd call "dereflecting," or engaging in a therapy known as "paridoxical-intention." That means I'm so charmingly self-efacing in my humorous essay about cavalierly and nonchalantly not caring about whether or not I ever get anywhere as either a writer of cartoonist that God's GOT TO see how sincere I am and go ahead and give me what I USED to want but now couldn't care less about (but if He INSISTED on blessing me that way, I guess I'd have to be gracious and accept it even though I don't really want it anymore). He's just GOT TO!

Isn't this the most sincere pumpkin patch you've ever seen? Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

But seriously, I don't know if this is how metaphysics work, or just how my maladjusted mind plays tricks on me, but I know that all through junior high and high school and some of college I was absolutely miserable because I didn't have a girlfriend and finally I told God, "screw it, I give up!" And that's about the time that He dropped my wife into my life. So maybe there is something to it.

Completely coincidentally, I named my religious cartoons "Sheep in wolves' clothing" before I ever read "Man's Search for Meaning," and it's kind of one of his ideas. I THINK I can get away with it without having to pay his descendants or estate any royalties because he didn't quite use the exact same wording- he said "one may howl with the wolves, if need be, but when doing so, one should be, I would urge, a sheep in wolf's clothing." Of course now I feel OBLIGATED to draw more of them and they have to all be amazingly deep and meaningful and powerful and perfect and all that in order to be worthy of the name, so now I've got THAT hanging over me. Sheesh.

Well, they say that a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words and I always meant to just make this a quick, short little entry here and not bore people with something so flippin' long, so I guess I'll stop now. Dang it! Why can't I ever do ANYTHING right?! Stupid! STUPID!

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