what matters most is how well you walk through the fire


The concept of life purpose has exploded in popularity in recent decades. We don’t just want to make money or build a secure career. We want to do something important. We want to be noticed. We want to be looked up to.

Meaning is the new luxury.

But like any other luxury, we idealize meaning. People believe that all you have to do is find the thing — that one bloody thing! — that you are “meant” to do, and suddenly, everything will click into place. You’ll do it until the day you die and always feel fulfilled and happy and prance with unicorns and rainbows while making a million dollars in your pajamas.

white nigger

The Interpretation of Dreams (White Nigger), 2001. Photograph: Andres Serrano

“I said, I don’t know about a slave, but I’ll turn you black, and I’ll call the picture White Nigger”





on the dangers of self-expression 


The interesting thing about our time is that however radical the message in your art, if you do your criticism through self-expression, you’re actually feeding the very power structure you’re trying to overthrow. The power structure you’re criticizing also believes in self-expression as the ultimate goal.

Capitalism is about self-expression; art is about self-expression. Art is far from being a radical outside movement. It’s at the heart of the modern conformity. That’s why nothing ever changes, because the radicals have gone to a form of expression at the very center of the power structure they disapprove of. So they’re neutered.
The idea of individual self-expression—whilst feeling limitless because the ideology of our age is individualism—looked at from another perspective is limiting because all you have is your own desires. There are other things that could free you from that. It’s a different kind of freedom.
A myth that tries to explain the things you don’t understand and gives you a sense of consolation beyond your own existence. I think that’s really good. We’re missing that. Take a mythical force like religion and talk about things like power that normal, boring, limited, rational technocratic journalism can’t. It dramatizes them beautifully.
Melodrama is the next thing. The heightened sense of things as a way of jumping out of this failed rational technocratic cage that we’re in where finance says you’ve got to do this, or austerity says you have to do that. It’s so limited. It’s so dull.
The trick has to be that it allows you still to feel you are an independent individual. The hyperindividualism of our age is not going to be going back into the bottle. You’ve got to square the circle. You’ve got to let people still feel they’re independent individuals, yet they are giving themselves up to something that is awesome, greater, and more powerful that carries them into the future beyond their own existence. That’s what people are yearning for.