To perform: (transitive verb)
1. To adhere to the terms of: Fulfill (perform a contract)
2. Carry out, Do
3. To do in a formal manner or according to prescribed ritual
1. To carry out an action or pattern of behavior: Act, Function
2. To give a performance
I’ve been thinking about what it means to Perform lately- as in to PRODUCE. Or rather, to work hard for a specific outcome. Surely, it is tied to my student status, and more specifically the fact that I will be graduating from college in approximately 36 days but man, oh man have I got some grade A performance anxiety these days. I’m putting off what i should be doing (writing my final research paper) in order to do that which I need not do at the moment (Google image searching, see attached image) -in an attempt to move (trick?) myself in a direction or into a sense of accomplishment for producing something that is not exactly required of me. We all do it: avoidance, distraction, frustration…
Coaching me through the highs and lows (there are many) is one of the most relevant and helpful pieces of writing that I have had the pleasure of being exposed to during my college years (big ups to Mr. Eric Fredericksen and his now no-longer, yet indispensable Art 361 course at the University of Washington) : Exhaustion and Exuberance, Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform by Jan Verwoert. This essay, subtitled Yes/No and Other Options explores the pressures to produce and to perform in a high demand, high performance culture. What does it mean to produce that which is asked of us in a creative environment and what happens when we renegotiate the terms of said demand, and further how do we talk about that outcome?
The long and short of it: I read and re-read this piece of writing every few months (sometimes as justification, sometimes as a positive channel for my own personal self-flagellation) and perhaps you should too. For everyone in a creative field, heck for anyone in ANY field, you might find that this resonates with you too.
Share the knowledge and Happy reading.
Exhaustion and Exuberance can be found all over the internet. Like HERE.
In the meantime, go easy on yourself dear reader and remember, sometimes you just need TIME TO MULL THINGS OVER. As my wonderful co-worker recently reminded me in an email: “Latency is of import.”
For more reading, do do do check out the old ART 361 site chock-full of gems, or this, or this.