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Art and Aging
A guest post by Edward M. Cohen
I am an eighty five year old writer who has lost that deep connection to my unconscious that so haunted me as a young writer. I did not know it at the time but I was writing to release the demons of my memory, to recreate the terrors of childhood and put them out there for me to see and conquer.
As I have dealt with my early terrors, as other people have lost their power over me, as I am no longer at the mercy of real or imagined events, I have lost the need to stay in touch with my unconscious. In doing so, I have thus lost the need and ability to be an artist.
So many writers lose their inspiration as they age. But what they have truly lost is their connection to their subconscious because it has been overcome by reason and adult ability. When that transition occurs, it may be good for the life but not so for the art.
I only write this because it causes so much pain. I have seen other writers struggle against what is happening and failing to understand that it is part of life. I leave the writing now to those who need it and still are intensely connected to the place from which art comes. Any other writing is not important.
I also find that, as I age, it is so much easier to repeat what I have said before. I have told so many stories. They are like tapes in my head that I can rewind and play back at any moment. But they are old stuff, not new. When was the last time I had a new thought? Maybe this morning when I thought about this and decided I needed to write it down. This morning in despair, in boredom, in exasperation with myself, I thought about the fact that I am telling the same stories, thinking the same thoughts, over and over – without reaching for the new. Because it is easier, I suppose. Because there is such a store of them – stories, ideas, words. I wanted to write this new thought down.
It is all I’ve got.
About the author:
Edward M. Cohen's story collection, "Before Stonewall," was published by Awst Press; his novel, "$250,000," by G.P. Putnam's Sons; his novella, "A Visit to my Father with my Son," by Running Wild Press; his chapbook, "Grim Gay Tales," by Fjords Review. His story, "Fishman Paper Box Co., Inc," appeared in the Unleash anthology, On Work.
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