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02. Letter From the Editors
November Theme: Self-Deception
Yesterday, we made a visit to the lovely Dia:Beacon in Beacon, New York. As we walked from the gallery to Main Street, we discussed how to look at art—how to approach a painting or sculpture, how to approach a film, how approach books. We spiraled (of course) and ended up in total disagreement around what makes art art (we are sooo sorry to anyone who was close enough to overhear). Things got heated once we broached the topic of what makes art art and who gets to decide what should be looked at and revered. Just because someone calls something art, does it make it so?
We discussed pandering, presence, preservation, procedure, practice, proclamation, and politics. We discussed uninhibited experimentation, concept, and form—all the usual things that come up in discussions of the sort. But our conversation centered around our theme for this month: self-deception.
Do we deceive ourselves into believing something is art just because it’s in an art museum and does the artist have to deceive themselves into believing that what they created is art before it becomes it? From there, our discussion broadened to human nature.
Philosophically speaking, self-deception is steeped in disagreement but also a core theme in existentialist literature (often that it’s one of the main obstacles from living authentic lives). But in art and in looking, self-deception feels critical to our ability to be acute noticers of our experience and generators of innovation.
Self-deception is a funny thing . How is it even possible to deceive oneself? How can you be both the deceiver and the deceived? This month we’ll explore self-deception in varying ways—from delusion (and also why it feels so nice!) resentment (and it’s wildly more interesting French cousin, ressentiment), self-betrayal, self-portraiture (in all forms!), bad faith, and false selves. In fact, our next essay (coming later this week!) will be a meaty one navigating the contradicting and dense literature on the topic while trying to draw a very thin line separating self-deceit from pure delusion.
Ironically, studies have shown that self-deception can play a role in reducing stress, and even allow us to approach situations with greater confidence and persistence, ultimately increasing chances of success. We have also seen that a healthy dose of delusion can keep us afloat, moving forward, or hell, creating art, making films, writing books (or newsletters—see, NO ONE can escape it!).
So, join us this month has we wander the gallery of self-deception—we’ll walk it’s hall of mirrors, gaze into the framed delusional illusions, and ask ourselves: What would a life look like free from self-deception? We’ll aim for self-understanding, self-awareness (blah, blah, blah) but, at a minimum try to learn how to look—really look—at our actions and motivations if only to see a little more clearly.
Indulge our deluded selves and let us know if there’s anything around this theme (or otherwise), you’d be interested in excavating with us this month.