Little theory on doubt

For a long time he had felt uncertain, without belief in himself as an artist. When he spoke with someone about art, an uncertainty whispered in him. Little by little this uncertainty became a theory, which he discovered he was not alone in holding, and whose premise was that it was no longer possible to create art. The only thing the theory meant, he eventually understood, was: it’s no longer possible for me to create art. When his disillusionment was greatest, he invented a character who was an exaggeration of everything he valued most about his talent. He kept saying to this character: it’s you who has to do it, it’s you who has to think of something! This only made the character withdraw from him, but in the space between its exaggerations and his uncertainty a work began to ricochet like a steel ball: forward to draw strength from the exaggeration and back again to the fundamental doubt. He began to understand that all great artists (at least those he self-reproachingly liked to compare himself with) had such a character, while lesser artists only had themselves.

– Niels Frank, Livet i Troperne (Life in the Tropics), my trans.

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