On the Financial Foundations of Expressive Freedom

“Freedom and fullness of expression are of the essence of the art.”
~ Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own, Chapter 4

It is curious to read such excerpts in the context of the recent identity reshuffle which birthed my artistic self, for the reshuffle itself was facilitated by being able, for the very first time, to comprehend my creative agency and permit full freedom to the expression I had previously attempted to exclusively dedicate to fiscally responsible occupations.  It is my hope that the newly-adopted perspective (which illuminates a network of countless interconnected paths so different to the hostile incline of a single marked route one must not abandon) will shed the rigid expectations long haunting the range of my output. In adopting this freedom I find the liberties I never permitted myself; the exuberance of the poet and her personna – an individual who accepts the fictional, hyperbolic and exaggerated nature of her work.

When discussing freedom and fullness of the art in A Room of One’s Own, Woolf focuses  on how sexism’s asphyxiating grasp limits woman’s ability to achieve financial independence, which she sees as the bare minimum for producing works of literary worth. Financial insecurity undoubtedly played a role in my prior inability to perceive myself for what I was, but this circumstance was derived from having yet to establish my career, as opposed to being blocked from doing so. My mind degenerated under persisting circular thoughts of how I would complete my education, secure my living space or afford to see my family; and it was not until I was able to obtain a predictable income and stable routine that my thoughts relaxed to the point of focusing on further topics.

Perhaps I was lucky that the artistic revelation arrived after income sources were secured. There is little comfort to be found in a risky departure from the path most tread, exposing oneself to the wilderness where the unforgiving winds of late capitalism brutalise a gentle soul of humble means. Since I am certain that such bravery – of forsaking salaried work for a precarious but time-abundant existence in a modern city – would be impossible for me, I am grateful that the stability and predictability of my office salary permit this wholly new world to spring. Undoubtedly I spend much more time doing what I like doing far less, but in my security I am able, for the first time, to imagine what else could be should I dedicate my free hours to crafting this end.

Financial matters aside, Virginia Woolf’s quote presented at the start of this note is extracted from a section of her essay which not only encourages women to withstand claims to their “natural” intellectual limitations, but additionally to perceive how existing formats represent the creations of men whose structure and rules may not be applicable to woman’s contribution. As such, she offers the space for women to shape the art, adapting its rhythm and presentation to the flow of their thoughts and inspiration.

Extending Woolf’s two arguments to the individual, she facilitates insights that can be made independent of gender – firstly that financial security may often play prerequisite for thought to form freely and secondly that existing format need not guide one’s contribution. Whilst a writer must be a reader first and foremost, no pre-defined rule of what constitutes essay, novel or poem should restrict one from presenting what the mind wants to write in the ambiguous or alien format in which it manifests.

Once more, I hope to achieve nothing more than to share part of the process which already exhibits a tangible difference in my life. Whilst financial means to secure a room and a desk appear to have played an indispensable role in enabling expression, abandoning imaginings of the format to which I must subscribe is what inflated the creative capacity. If you ever feel that how you write or paint or dance is not good enough, consider that exploration need not be judged by what has already been done, and that liberation in expression may empower many more than just your own self.


She, the Moon on a Pond

She swims in the pond of driving desires

Deep and vast as it is.

Deep and vast as the skin and the touch

She praises and folds ’round another.


Enchanted, the moon wraps her light,

Plump and round as it is.

Plump and round as her mind, in flow,

Releases the body’s desire.


Her and the moon draw the thin string

Perilous and tender it is.

Perilous and tender as the love in the stars

That so easily never could be.


The moon on a pond, illuminates her –

Loving and gentle she is.

Loving and gentle as the line that she draws

Shimmering brightly for those who can see.

Discovering the Creative Self

Over the course of the past year realisations of life-altering proportions have shifted my self-perception and behaviour alike.  Whether as a result of being blind to the painfully evident or deluded about the purpose I find, simple adjustments to my own definition of who I dare to be have unleashed torrents of release and the strength that stems therefrom. I have finally come to accept the artist within me and to award actionable agency to the poetry and prose I never took seriously enough. The conclusions that drove this shift in personal identification dawned on me through multiple dimensions, which I would like to share with you today. 

The first conduit for such enthralling reflection lies in my current abode. In the base of the artists I am not only surrounded by opportunities to internalise varied forms of self-expression, but also find myself in the presence of individuals who have naturally adopted their creative personna as their main me. They do not, like myself, split their world between what must be done and what their internal fluctuation produces; they are and dare to be that which the rest may forsake for the vague fear of being labeled as having their heads in the clouds.

I suppose it is the variety of activities my roomies engage in that emboldened me to summon the courage I need. From Toms’ sax through Rebeka and Christian’s paintings to Charly’s audio / visual endeavors, what’s missing in this idyllic picture is a writer. But I digress – what I intended to share is that this range of creative bustle inspired me to look beyond the unimpactful formalism of academia and accept the affect of art. It drove me to perceive how the poet within me thrives in hyperbole, linguistic exaggeration and potent imagery. It lead me to understand that the output that flows most readily from me shall not be destined as a cash cow, but rather as expression through the medium of writing free in its purpose of merely existing. I now dare to liberate my creative process from the shackles of a daily occupation and render it unambiguously committed to artistic output. ‘Tis to live a cliché – I stayed in Berlin, ran away to live with the artists and in the process discovered the creative self. Perhaps the angst of the last 15 years and that unmistakable internal pressure which finds no valve can finally spill into this realisation, filling it with truth and prowess by sheer magnitude and force. 

The second conduit relevant to this exploration is the space I have discovered in my solitude. I have read and read and read and have at last conceived that before one can dare to call themselves a writer, they must be a reader first and foremost. Through my literary explorations I was guided to develop the habit of journal keeping (thank you, Georgi Gospodinov) and of pragmatically ingesting formats that I may one day dream to call my own. All of this is exciting to a point of motivation far greater than the one encountered in a lacklustre attempt to make my master thesis publishable. More importantly, my newly-found habituality may represent a dim signal for the validity of my tweaked self-perception.  

As a final observation I will briefly address Virginia Woolf’s conceptualisation of the artist that one encounters in a A Room of One’s Own. In her work, Woolf raises the hypothetical scenario of the existence of  Shakespeare’s equally gifted sister who, like him, is drawn to theatre by her immeasurable talent. The outright mockery she encounters as a woman attempting to enter the art drives her to suicide as the unexpressed internal turmoil slowly pushes genius to insanity. Woolf appears to implicitly equate the artist to a human of grand emotional capacity which, if left inarticulate, engulfs the mind in a suffering that degenerates into surrender or abandon. In the early days of emotional exploration, I often permitted the tides of sorrow and confusion associated with my father’s passing to spill into my earliest poetry, a gate that sealed shut as teenagehood taught me the concepts of shame and capitalistic ambition. Now, over a decade down the line, I stand where I did so many years ago, observing how a room of my own and the small desk and solitude that go along with it have returned me to that same expression that not only keeps me sane, but also heals practices that bring nothing but ruin. 

I must thank you, Charly, Rebeka, Christian and Toms (and might I mention Rory and Kate here, too), for illuminating the seriousness of art at its core, and for being stronger in your conviction than I ever dared to be. I continue to grow as the artist within me is finally free to write what the mind chooses to write. 



I continue reading Rilke…

as I address that which strangles my lightness and peace.

These were life-sized experiences and bore down upon me with their true weight.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Let me paraphrase, if I may:

These are life-sized realizations that re-align my internal universe with their gravitational scale.

I have been writing this past month. Driven by uncanny realizations of the interconnectedness of mind, body and emotional trauma, it is much to process and daunting to structure. Scattered words and thoughts swarm ’round the nebulous truth I have found as it materializes and consolidates. I arrive now at the end of the cycle and begin to shape action from philosophy, and will share a coherent account soon.



Source and Result

Everything, everything runs too fast for common conceptions of memory to dice out what significance momentary decisions bear. One’s dialogue runs faster than the hand can keep up and the medium becomes restrictive. The mind is alive in a way that neither memory or process can reward, and thus must exist in a realm guided by principles other than the plainly physical. Art is the tool that unites the two, transforming the metaphysical impressions generated by the fluid, rapid mind into the concreteness of expression. It is, in essence, a practice permitting the self to sift unlimited outpour into focused statement, with decision and compromise guiding the flow. For long I have known that patience and peace are virtues I must yet construct; and it is in connecting the dichotomy of source and result, at that very intersection of the physical and metaphysical, that my practice must lie. 

Underpinning such standpoints is an understanding that views the mind as both actor and receiver: as much a vessel consuming external stimuli as a beacon projecting and shaping the subjective reality of each being’s existence. Passivity in reception is not for me, thanks. I choose to believe I am not helpless in shaping my world, and that the effort that transforms the metaphysical source into concrete result via the creative process reflects a fundamental capacity of our conscious being to shape the nature of reality, even if only at the margin.