Archive for April 7th, 2011


When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities. 

David Hume


Confidence is a big element in what I do and probably in the careers of most folks, regardless of their field.  Nobody buys from a salesman who doesn’t express supreme confidence in his product, nobody attends the sermons of a minister who isn’t cure that his beliefs are absolute and nobody wants their financial adviser to tell them that he’s not sure if they will make money with his investments.  Likewise, nobody is drawn to paintings that are unsure of what they are trying to express.  I think that people feel enough uncertainty in their own lives that they find work that contains a surety of vision an appealing thing, something that speaks to what confidence they do maintain.

I know I am drawn to confidence and try to maintain a certain level of confidence in my work.  I am usually sure that a piece has a level of surety before it leaves my hands and goes out into the world, away from protective space of the studio.  But I generally go through several crises of confidence throughout the year , unsure that I am expressing fully what I desire or uncertain that a new path I may be following is the right one for that time.  This has been going on with me forever and it’s gotten to the point that I am expecting these times of self doubt and when I am working, especially on new work that hasn’t made its way to the public yet, and don’t feel this doubt, I begin to be suspicious of whatever I may be working on at the moment.  I’m always most suspicious of new work that excites me the most, uncertain if my reaction is real and related to the work or if it is merely a reaction to something new and different in the work, something that may be fleeting in its appeal.

It’s times like these that I wonder about those folks in other fields who seemingly never express self doubt, who maintain a shell of absolute belief.  Is it real or is it merely hubris, an arrogance born of a certainty that clouds the vision and the judgement?  When I think of all the problems in the world, this cocksure confidence, this absolute belief in ones own view of whatever is driving the issue, be it religion, politics, economics or race, is surely in the forefront of factors of causation.  I think of the Florida minister who burns the Quaran because he is so steadfastly sure that his religious vision is the one and only tolerable view.  Or politicians from either side who feel that there is no room for compromise, that their vision is the only way forward.   That their vision allows them to do whatever they might do to achieve it and that anyone who questions their viewpoint is against them and must be destroyed or removed in some manner. 

Their confidence turns to arrogance and these  people begin to  see only in black and white.  They can’t see the subtle shades of gray that are present in everything, can’t recognize the  absurdities, as Hume points out above, they have fostered.  There is only right or wrong, black or white. And even though we are a people who live for the most part  in a world of grays, they persist.  I don’t really understand it but I am just a person who lives daily with self doubts and eyes such absolute self-confidence suspiciously.  Unfortunately, these zealots of self belief will always be front and center in this world.  They rise, again and again.  And they fall, again and again, because their visions tended to be flawed or not inclusive of all the factors that they need to keep up the momentum of their efforts.  After all,  this is a world of shades of gray and not simply black and white.  There is seldom one right answer to any question.

Okay, enough thinking aloud for now.  I have my own work to question…


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