Well-Developed Doubleness

First and foremost, the art experience is mine.


In the book Keeping the Eye Open by Julian Barnes, one particular essay topic was on whether or not artists should marry. It was referring to a man as the artist and listing the advantages and disadvantages. I, however, loved reading it from a woman’s perspective. I wrote down one section that said if an artist is going to marry he (or how I read it “SHE”) must possess:

1. Absolute will to be free and independent

2. Well-developed doubleness 

I love the phrase well-developed doubleness. To me it means handling myself differently when I'm actively working on my art then when I'm spending time with my partner. I would take it even further and say that extends to family and  other social interactions.

So much positivity is given towards the behavior of always being your same self with everyone, but through the years my artist self has found it necessary to tone down my artistic proclivities in conversation. Not everyone can hang with my intense passion. 

In an art class I once taught I posed a question to a couple women who were present. "What makes us so different from other people?" "Us" meaning "us artists." No real answer was given, and I could sense that was because they didn't associate with the "us."

It was only much later, when reflecting on that class, that I realized they were there simply to dip a toe into their artistic waters while I was assuming their presence meant they were diving into the deep water in which I thrive. Everyone does not care about art how I care about art. Not even others who are drawn to art. This has been a big aha moment for me over the past couple years. So when I saw the phrase "well-developed doubleness" it resonated instantly. 

I was in a conversation recently where a man had started a blog and his partner thought it strange that he would share things on there that he did not share with her personally. I told her I had the same thing happen to me with a friend once. She wanted to hear things from me personally via a phone call, while I only wanted to use the energy once to share my thoughts and feelings through creative writing. In the end I couldn't give her what she wanted. I needed to keep my doubleness.

I've been in conversations talking about art when I see eyes glaze over. I know when I've lost someone's attention, and I hate that. Not because I'm hurt, but because I realize I've given something special away that the recipient cannot appreciate.

No one should have to change their likes to accommodate me. And so I have learned to read the signs and steer the conversation in a new way in order to savor what is best reserved for myself alone. This is largely why I have returned to a blog as a source for me to elaborate. It is my double-life. It is my work. It is work I do best alone. I have so much passion for the arts and am often unsure what to do with such an immensity of energy. When I don't get to explore it I feel as if my life is all for others and not for me. This feels tragic.

Even more do I love the idea of intentionally developing my doubleness. I can perfect this skill, much like I can work on table manners, posture and handwriting. I have been "intentionally develpling my doubleness" for some time, I just didn't have a name for it. 

To live a double-life, in this sense, isn't a betrayal. I'm not withholding information. I'm letting it all out in the proper time and place, as is most effective for my art and my relationships. I think it is the kindest, most considerate thing I can do for my partner, my family, those I socially interact with and for myself.  

Daniel. Rabbits. 2019.
Daniel. Rabbits. 2019.
"I always live a double life. There is my real life, and then there is the one I would like to live. I am never in my real life only...It's always like this for me."
- Miuccia Prada

2 thoughts on “Well-Developed Doubleness”

  1. “I know when I’ve lost someone’s attention, and I hate that. Not because I’m hurt, but because I realize I’ve given something special away that the recipient cannot appreciate.” My first memory of this is with my mother, when I was a passionate, enthusiastic teenager. Her eyes would glaze as I talked, and I’d feel exposed, awkward, vulnerable, and bereft. Like you, I’ve learned to read the signs and reel it in.

  2. Very relatable and you put words to things I’ve sensed, and instinctually *done* in my relationships as well. There’s the Social-Mandy, then there’s the Artist-Mandy. I sometimes feel that my people don’t know all of me, but I also don’t know how to give the Artist-side to them without it getting all weird and clunky. I don’t know how to express that self outside of paper and canvas.

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