Ego satisfaction is powerfully addictive. It blinds us ultimately to everything other than our own immediate cravings and desires. One might understand organized religion (possibly excluding Satanism and others of the darker variety) as largely about moderating the natural human tendency towards self-gratification, be it physical or psychological. The emphasis on monogamous family life in most religious traditions, for example, is largely about enforcing in folks a daily dose of concern and involvement in the affairs of others.
The lesson is poignant for artists, who must spend a great deal of time working alone at creative projects. Demon Ego crouches in the corner or the room. He argues forcibly that, as an artist, your imperative to create trumps all – from breaking to walk the dog, to call mother, attend a worship service, or volunteer for an hour on a Sunday. Isolation breeds isolation, not for more and better creative output, but for brooding and fading in loneliness. Wanting the most basic social graces, a six-pack is now the permanent replacement for human companionship.
There is a line in the sand beyond which the creative return on investment from self-imposed exile rapidly diminishes. And the line is not fixed – rather it draws in closer and closer – boxes in the artist, suffocates. Happily, the converse is true. Some regular engagement with friends (you will have to make some), family (you will have to apologize), the needs and concerns of community (you will have to remember where you live) – all this will push that line in the sand out and out. We will find some refreshment, some breath. We will be re-charged for our solitary pursuit. Our thinking will be clearer, more dynamic.
Lolita’s unpredictable lover, Lizard King, will tell you in a heartbeat that this is all a lot of hogwash (as he snaps another fly into his mouth). Lizard of course has made a career out of doing what he wants, and when. And it seems to work for him – but then again Lizard is not an artist. That is probably at least part of why Lolita likes him. He represents permission to cast off the creative yoke now and then, and to value some social contact. Lizard is all about social contact. In this regard, at least, we can learn something from the forked tongue dude.