Talent: An explanation

The late Robin Williams in the film “Good Morning Vietnam.”
He was a man with incredible talent as an entertainer. YouTube

I once encountered the idea that talent – also known as “talent” – amounts to nothing more than a gift from God. “We’re all good at one thing,” many people like to say about life itself. This notion strikes me as sheer desperation – in that, life must become and remain a search for skill as opposed to knowledge.

Keep in mind, I am not encouraging people to sit and ponder possible realities. No, I am adamant about the fact that our parents shape – via encouragement – whatever talents or “talents” we can possess. Children, being famous for their imaginative capacities, why not encourage safer livelihoods in terms of health – livelihoods such as acting or directing or even writing. In other words, why do mothers give into paternal demands that boys play sports and that girls pretend within games of princess?

We should encourage creativity as livelihood and not as mere diversion – also considering that mental health can benefit from the pursuit of such aforementioned livelihoods as acting, writing, directing. Once we remove the stigma from pursuing the “show business” career – and we can do so by encouraging the MFA in acting, writing, directing – it seems that violence would decline and that mental health would improve by virtue of the catharsis inchoate in creating works of art.

Just consider the USPS worker who “snaps” and takes it upon himself to “go postal” on his coworkers. It all reminds me of the movie “Parenthood” – wherein Steve Martin’s son goes postal and hollers that he never should have had to play second base! Of course, the MFA leads to possible employment as both professor and practitioner of – for yet the same examples – acting, writing, directing.

As for God, I do not believe in God. It seems that somebody named Jesus once walked the earth and prophesied everything from grace to “grace.” Artists do not create something out of nothing. Jesus created something out of nothing – but, it must also be said, that he did so in reaction to something metaphysical. Artists – be they painters or writers or directors – create nothing out of something. Religion allows for no interpretation. That’s the whole point of art – that the artist remains free to explain the world to themselves and allow for even the most pious interpretation of facts to become “facts.”

The interpretation of the audience or the reader – as in a difference between playwriting and fiction writing – provides itself through plot or story such that events become who we are in life outside the work of art.

After all, life remains and is and was a series of events hurtling not toward oblivion. Instead, life hurtles toward interpretation and the resolution of conflict. We can all remain and be confident that not all will pursue the “show business” career – be it in show business or not. Some people will find their pretense elsewhere – even if, the pretentious face the fact of inevitable failure.

To paraphrase what William Faulkner once said in an interview: “The writer makes the time to write. He or she does not need the time to write. They are stopping time itself.” Yes, such ideas might seem to demand certain economic circumstances. But, doesn’t the teacher make – not take – the time to educate? Doesn’t the lawyer make – not take – the time to argue or prepare to do so? Why do we encourage cynicism in the name of macho pursuits like athletics and steer people away from what might be their – as I said intimated before – God given gift?

You may have noticed that I used a lot of “quotation marks” in this piece. I did so to demonstrate the fact that talent and work ethic are one in the same – even if, actors need people to look at them or want people to look at them; even if, writers need to be read but must ignore and reject that instinct and thought; even if, directors need to be bossy or arrogant with writers and actors, but must realize that we are all human beings working from various theories toward livelihood. Those theories exist in the U.S. system of education – that we respect liberalism without becoming cynical or far too conservatism. Too many people want to eliminate the arts out of pious cynicism.

And, as for mental health, we need never take literally that art and violence are the same thing.

For example, why do we feel the need – as in Sigmund Freud – to praise the expression of the thought as we seek to suppress the thought?