XL: What were you searching for when you got into this business?
Lana: I was looking for an artistic community like Dylan’s, Joan Baez’s or Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s beat generation…in the sixties, where they spent their nights writing novels or folk songs. I also sought respect as a writer within that community. And, truthfully, I found neither.
— Lana Del Rey 2014 Interview in XLSemenal

I imagine existing in a space that resembles the NYC apartment from Across The Universe--filled to the brim by a bunch of rowdy and dysfunctional individuals who all come and go, and who all, within the moments found in the late nights and early mornings, create tirelessly their dreams upon once-blank pages.

And we would all feed off each other's energy, and throw across the apartment ideas expressed in single words and sounds, and we would understand each other, and we would feel strong in that understanding, and free in that room, and free within those walls. We would ask each other what we are working on, and we would understand "Wait and see", and "I am unsure of this", and "Ten thousand things at once". Because we would all know what it is to be an artist, and we would be connected and hopeful, and would together hang onto those rooms with our skinny fingers, balled-up and scuttling together the rent at the very end of the month, a week after the deadline, with irradiant smiles on our faces as we shake the landlord's hand, before returning to our diaries, and to our books, our beers, our laughter, to then play the game of "What did you discover today?", and we would watch absurd Youtube videos, and disturbing documentaries, and videos of songs that are out of tune.

"Music's the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough and it keeps the demons at bay."

"Music's the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough and it keeps the demons at bay."

But I don't have any of that, really. I have friends who are artists, and who love art, and who are interested in my art. I have that. But does it feel like a community? No, it does not. We all live in separate places, and each of our artworks exist in other, more disparate places--we do not work together; we share instead the stories of our work. 

This is, I suppose, something. But there is nothing left now equitable to the rush felt in the Year 12 art room, over a year ago, when we would trade each other's ideas on the fly, scrawl in each other's work books, finger each other's canvasses. Wonder the hallways and peer over shoulders and smile at the insurmountability of artistic output.

I have been thinking about these ideas of community for a few days now, for various reasons. Not just about artistic communities, either, but all communities. And how strange it is that we do not know our neighbours. And how a whole world can be broke, but in different ways--broke in such equal ways that we could all plug up each other's gaps and make one another whole. Why do we fear one another? And why can we not connect? And why is art so expensive and impossible and undervalued? And how long till the fuckers' mountain crumbles down?

All this keeps me up/I am searching for community/I am very tired.


Jonathan O'Brien