This Man, This Monster (pgs. 56-60)

Hello Friends and Cyberneighbors. What is it!

Once again I have some thoughts to share: Maintenance of the proper attitude is of utmost importance when attempting to produce comix. If I view it as a task, something to be completed in order to move on to the next item on my to-do list, then I am putting myself in a frame of mind that is counteractive to self-motivation.
Focusing on the product or end-result more or less shuts me down and robs the process of any joy or peace that might result from a state of concentrated awareness.

And yet there's a task to be performed, isn't there? The pages are not going to draw themselves. There's no getting around the labor-intense aspect of making comix, but taken as a whole, the prospect of producing so many pages is just too daunting. And it seems that nothing in art is ever really "finished" anyway, at least not in the sense that there is such a thing as perfection. I mean to say that there is always something that I feel I could have done better, but linear time in our currently conventional reality being what it is, one must wrap it up at some point, call it good, and move on to the next challenge (or page). This is called "abandonment."

Outwardly, conventionally, there is a clearly stated goal: "I intend to finish this story." 

Inwardly, the attitude that best fits things as they are would be articulated as "starting." Psychologically, the goal is to start over continually.

"Start again, Start again." This phrase is about all I can remember from the Vipassana Meditation Retreat I attended in North Fork, CA in 2008. Thank you to Goenkaji for at least providing me with this mantra. In Vipassana Meditation, one is often instructed that the idea is not to acheive anything, but rather to practice. 
The actual result of any endeavor is unprectictable, and quite different from any imagined outcome. In the mind there is a narrative about what could or should happen, but there ought to be some discernment between the story and reality. Once in a while, the two might be close, but I would venture that they are never identical.

So just now as I'm writing this and doing all of this deep reflection (snort), the Myth of Sisyphus occurred to me:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus
The story has always been a powerful allegory for me, Now, I'm wondering if, instead of being a parable about existential futility, it can be linked to the "start again" mantra. Because if the focus shifts from product to process, then maybe Sisyphus' lot isn't quite so abhorrent. If the goal is to get the rock to the top and stay there, then there is eternal disappointment and endless suffering. Is there another way to look at the story that removes it from the predicament category?

Right. So again, the proper attitude to cultivate has more to do with "starting" than with "finishing."

I bet Charles Schulz himself would back me up on this. Well, I don't really know that because I cant speak for him, but his advice to beginning cartoonists seemed to articulate the same spirit. Without quoting him, it was something like: One should be content to be working on the strip that is in front of them at the time, and let the long term take care of itself. I can't find a link but the essay by Schulz is reprinted in An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories and its called "How to Develop a Comic Strip."

Okay, so its tricky. The mind is a terrible thing, and conditioning orients me by default toward future or past, but I can certainly cultivate a different attitude in relation to what I'm doing, and what better place to do that than at the drawing table?

The only thing is my hand hurts. Crud! 
Thank you for reading this and I promise to keep posting new installments of "This Man, This Monster" as long as I am able or until it is utterly abandoned, whichever comes first.

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