Why do we desire to express ourselves with other human beings? What is this desire to “express”? What are we looking for? Why is it so natural, and so human? Why are we social creatures? Why don’t we exist without the ability, nor even, without the desire to express? Why aren’t we isolated atoms, unconscious, incapable of introspection, and without a sense of belonging? Why does the painter paint? The writer write? The musician music? Why is this how we are?
Interestingly enough, not only do we desire to express, but we desire to consume. I think it is fair to say that, for most, the desire to consume is greater than the desire to create: or, rather, that there are more consumers than there are producers. It seems as if there are more listeners of music than players, readers of books than writers, watchers of movies than actors, etc. Clearly, given the fact that we have minds, we desire stimulation for our minds. For some, this comes in the form of sexual violence, or other unspeakable evils. For others, this comes in the form of books. Human interaction of some kind is always desired at some time or another, whether the interaction be constructive or destructive.
Despite how natural this fact is, it still puzzles me. Indeed, it seems as if those facts most “factual” puzzle me the most. Questions with an answer “It just is” puzzle me the most. I ponder those most often. Their simplicity causing the most confusion. “But why?”
It would be fair to say that, obviously, considering the fact that each of us as humans is an independent entity, with individual desires, that we have different reasons for expressing ourselves. But yet, we share a common humanity, in that we desire human connection. Speaking for myself, I find most of this human connection unsatisfactory; and I would imagine the same is true for many. Sure, you see people as you drive down the road, but do you really want to converse with them all? Flag them down just for a chat? Clearly, we ignore a majority of people that we are aware of. Because we feel as if we do not need to engage in deeper levels of interaction to achieve what it is we are looking for from human communication. This exists on a spectrum, of course, as most, if not all human desires and actions do. Some are more willing to talk to strangers than others. But still, we all need some form of human interaction. And I just find that weird, even if, admittedly, it is a “given”. We’re all looking for something, and we are all going to experience the ebbs and flows of success and failure in achieving that “something”.
I suppose that expression, at least in my case, is not always about human interaction, nor communication, but rather a desperate attempt to speak. The desire to speak (mainly through writing) often overwhelms me. I don’t know why. I don’t care about the feedback. But yet, I still speak. What am I looking for from other people? Do I not write for others to read? Why do I want them to read? Why do I want them to read if I don’t want to read what they write in response? And is that actually true? Do I hate all responses to my writing? Do I enjoy any responses to my writing? And if so, what kind? Clearly, I enjoy feedback that says the reader “enjoyed” the work. I enjoy any positive feedback, as all creative people do. But that isn’t why I express. I don’t express to say “I can’t wait for that positive feedback.” No, I just have something to say. Something to “get off my chest.” Whether praised or critiqued, I have a desire to express myself.
We all have people whom we enjoy listening to. And we all have people whom we enjoy speaking to. But what of, say, people like writers? Musicians? We don’t write simply for our closest friends. We write to “the world”. To anyone willing to take the time to read, or listen. Why? My first thought is something cheesy, like “Making the world a better place.” Do I really believe that to be true in my case? For one, I don’t think my work is good enough for that currently to be the case. Do I desire for that to be the case in the future? Yes, I would say that I do. Of course, there is an economic aspect involved in expressing “for the world”, as “the world” has money. But I think it is fair to say that many, if not most “artists” express regardless of the money. There’s something about expression that we need. We were given thoughts, and we were given an ability to speak. It may very well be that it’s simply our nature to be expressive, regardless of how we are received.
There’s many different ways I could go with this. The quality of what is being expressed (if, say, what is being expressed is an attempt to convince others what ethics should be practiced). What is expressed at expression (“reaction” to an “initial” expression). The soul is desperate to speak out. I think this is simply a matter-of-fact, no matter how puzzling that fact is to me.
People risk their lives for expression. Many value expression more than their life itself. When one is deprived of human rights, the desire to speak out against that is overwhelming. The victims are letting the oppressors know that they are not going to take it anymore; that they are going to take a stand. Of course, their masters are expressing themselves as well: telling their slaves that their own slavery is good for them. Once again, expression is not necessarily ethical. There are various motivations for expression. But, nonetheless, the desire to express remains, whether one be introvert or extrovert; criminal, good Samaritan, or both.
In addition to, in my own case, being interested in my own reasons for being expressive, I am interested in how “expressions” are “received” in general. Everyone has types of music that they dislike, or artists, or songs. The musician has reasons for creating the music he or she does. And that music is either liked or disliked by any particular individual. It’s weird to me. Individualistic diversity will always puzzle me. I accept it as a reality, but it bothers me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly understand it.
Why speak if few listen? Why speak if you ignore the listeners? Human interaction is a very weird, intricate thing. Musicians create songs that people love. And people buy albums, memorabilia, go to concerts, etc. Sometimes, millions of people are involved (more than that, if you consider the people who aren’t “fans” who are aware of the band’s existence, express that they don’t enjoy their music, etc.). And, typically, the musicians are very thankful to all of the people who financially support them. But, clearly, they can’t have a “one-on-one” conversation with each and every one of them. However, I guess, in some ways, they do have a “one-on-one” conversation with each of them. They sing the songs that the listeners enjoy, and the listeners voice their support of the music either by cheering or by purchasing their products. But yet, I think you get what I mean. It isn’t the same as sitting at McDonald’s with your best friend, talking about religion, financial situations, etc. The communication is a bit weird, but at the same time, is natural. Assuming that the song was not created simply to sell (meaning the musicians derive some independent, artistic pleasure from the creation itself), they sing. Whether they be rich or poor, they sing. They express. What are they looking for? Money is an obvious first answer. But there’s often more than that. There’s something else. A receiver? Who, and why? Why does the writer desire readers, and the musician listeners? If you take money out of the equation, why would we write? Why would we make music? We could make music that we enjoy, and try to share that joy with others. Perhaps that’s what it is, to a certain extent. “This makes me happy: does it make you happy too?” An attempt to spread “joy to the world.” Maybe it truly is an attempt to “make the world a better place.” Of course, there is a way to spread “joy to the world” that isn’t self-fulfilling. You can be unhappy while “making the world a better place.” Say, you’re a doctor, and you do good work. You can still hate your job despite the fact that your work is helpful, and “makes the world a better place.” But, I think often, expression is simply meant to make the expressor feel good; and who could say no to the others that happen to enjoy it as well? I think that’s as simple as it comes down to: basic joy. I’m not willing to ask the question why it creates joy, nor why joy is a desired result (especially as the latter question is absurd: one of those “it simply is” answers, even though I typically do enjoy asking those questions. I’m done with it here, however). One of these days, I attempt to have a body of work that fully explains my philosophy regarding happiness and the purpose of life.
Time to get back to the next piece of writing, whatever it is, struggling to find the best words to convey my thoughts that I feel worth sharing.