On Impatience


While eyeballing a doodle in my journal, I realized that I had become impatient with it. I used to daydream and draw for a long time at a stretch. I am now impatient with myself. It brings me back to last summer’s concurrent reading of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and the Journal of a Novel. Over and over, he says that he must pace the writing out slowly.

The hurry helps nothing. It merely brings a given project to completion prematurely, and the final product is not as good as it might have been had you merely gone at a natural pace.

If you must hurry, to which end?

To be done? Why, when you know after a very short time, you will be drawn back to the work in another project?  And will you rush it to a mediocre end?

To reveal it to the world? You know there’s no money in it, and that fame is an unsettling alternate reality. So you reveal it, and then what? If it captures anyone’s interest, you become bankrupt: A negative reaction will initially offend you and leave you angry, but you will have brought it upon yourself. Praise will render you shy and embarassed. Either way, you will know you could have done better, transcending whatever your rush has begotten.

It is dissatisfying because the lust for result is a destructive urge. John Kennedy Toole provides an example. After this unsatisfying result, what would you do? Begin again, as Kafka journaled, “in the shameful lowlands of writing.”

There is only ever the work. This is as true in writing and art-making as it is in magick. The work itself is your joy.

“For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust  of result, is every way perfect.” — Aleister Crowley, The Book of the Law, I: 44

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