The Art of Pain
I want to introduce the concept of pain as a companion.
Since we are born we feel pain and from day one we need to deal with pains. Our organism is constantly producing energy and alimenting cells that live and die. A lot of our daily energy is use against the forces of nature that push us toward the ground, that change our body temperature, that blow against us, etc.
Since we are born we experience a number of different pains and different level of pain. We also learn to manifest our pains and to search for remedy. We immediately understand pain as something against us, as something external to us with a clear negative connotation. When we grow we associate the idea of pain with medicinal (pain relief), hospitals, treatments. More recently we also connect the idea of pain with inefficiency and unproductivity. While I’m writing these words I’m also aware that pain is growing as a sort of taboo… it is such a bad thing that it is better not to speak about it… unless it is necessary. Well it has become really necessary to share some thoughts on pain and most of all to change mine/our relationship with the idea of pain.
I remember recently watching a documentary on flamenco and listening the experts of the art saying that the dance, the music and the singing can manifest only if in connection with pain… without the real suffering we can not connect emotionally in what we all share and battle every day of our existence. For the first time I linked the relationship between art and pain: art being a manifestation of pain and in a way the celebration of one of our most innate companion. To be in pain it means to live. It mans to be, to sustain, to inhabit life, to inhabit our body, to breath. If we focus for a second to our most functional activity of breathing we realize that breathing means exhaling (empting our body of oxygen) and inhaling (filling our body of oxygen). This repetitive action is a sort of daily therapy, a procedure of self-cure. To cure it also means to empty or to destroy so to build or to rebuild, to strengthen. More we are connected with our pains and more we can activate our systems of self-cure and of protection. If we distance each other from our daily pain we allow the pain to grow and develop forms that are harder to cure. In my society of pain-taboo is very easy to create a separation with the pain. Most of all, I have been educated to see the pain as some already anonymous and alien to my system which remedy is a another alien substance. Basically I have been educated to see my pain as a ‘transaction’ of anonymous viruses exchanged for artificially created ones. I have been educated to be a tourist of my body and to understand the richest tourists owning the healthier bodies. I have been educated to keep my pains as secret as obstacles toward my success. This culture is a culture of pain expansion. While we are constantly reminded of the prosperous result of the application of technology and the innovative progress of our research, we are battling against new forms of pain. We have definitely learned to prolong our life and sedate the pain but we have not learned to live with it and share our life with it. The acceptance of pain in our life it means the creation of a deeper connection with the tissues of our existence. It is not to job of the doctor to encourage a deeper relationship with our body and the pains of our bodies but it is the job of the educator and the artist. In this case I see the educator and the artist sharing the same role and practicing the Art of Caring. The real remedy to the pain is a stronger connection, the dialogue and the coexistence. We need to start understanding the pain as a partner that needs a lot of daily care and the result of this marriage is a more peaceful life. To cure our own body it also means to cure our social body, our family, our community, our country, our world. It means to allocate a larger quantity of our activities and energies toward practices of correspondence and acknowledgment with the pains of our world.
In a society where we learn to hide our pains and to overcome our deep pain decorating the surface, where we learn to reward our anxiety practicing the insignificant Art of Shopping, where we learn to direct all our energy to fuel the market and celebrate the profit as the Art of Happiness… we need to re-establish the ‘respect’ for the forces of nature and reconnect with our essence. We have distanced ourselves from the other living species because we can imagine and create, well, we went a bit too far and it is time to use our creative energy to bridge back with our origin and perpetrate co-existence instead of uncontrolled individualism and artificial dominion.
The Art of Caring must become a new shared ideology that informs our conscience and drives our behavior.
The Art of Caring is not addressing a radical battle against the market and the use of technology. The Art of Caring is calling for an urgent action toward solidarity and respect. Directing a bigger part of our energy and time toward the connection with our pains it means automatically to reduce our time spent to produce and consume, it means to re-establish a moderate use of technology, it means to re-gain our control toward the market and not allow the market to control us.
We, artists and educators of this world need to start first practicing the Art of Caring so to share our discoveries, our actions, our exercises of connections. We need to become the example, the models upon which the rest of our community can confront with. Like children of this world we can only apprehend by imitating and repeating. The new children of this world need to have the possibility to practice the Art of Caring.
Manuel Vason (Mexico City 2016)