34. The Artist's Intuition
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27 Jan 2055 | 1900h
‘So answer me this. Why do art at all? Do you ever ask yourself that?’
It was a warm night, even with the windows open. On the Eastern Ring, where Camille had come from, it was far colder. It had even snowed a bit. Down by the jungle, however, it felt like a summer night. It almost lulled Camille into a false sense of summer vacation; in reality, it was a Wednesday night, and she would have to be up bright and early the next day to go to Sky High.
For now, however, she tried to put that out of her mind. This was the first time she had seen Casey since they had met a week and a half ago. After the protest last week, everything seemed more intense in general. It didn’t feel like the right time to reach out to new friends. Not to mention, Camille felt a little odd reaching out to someone that much older than her. It wasn’t that she was uncomfortable with his age—she didn’t fit in much with her class anyway—i t was more that she didn’t know how he viewed her at her age. Would reaching out too soon make her seem immature? Could waiting too long be even worse?
Camille recognized these thoughts, but she also understood their futility. They had agreed to hang out again, and that’s just what ended up happening. When Casey reached out last Sunday to ask her availability for the coming week, they had decided on Wednesday. Not too early that she seemed eager, but soon enough that she wouldn’t have to wait long.
‘I want to give you a good answer,’ Camille responded after a moment of reflection, ‘but I don’t know if I have something totally… coherent.’
The two of them sat across from each other on the mat that Casey used as a combination bed and seating area. The house he rented was a one-room structure on the eastern end of the Jungle. It was the perfect setup for Casey—easy access to town and the University, along with astoundingly cheap rent. He hardly even needed the small space he had to fit everything he owned.
‘Okay,’ Camille said. ‘So I guess I like what you said when we met, about having something to say. I’ve been thinking about that a lot for the past couple weeks. It always takes my breath away to think about the time period we get to grow up in. Technology has been moving so fast ever since I’ve been born, and this city is unlike anything that existed thirty years ago. So I’m always thinking about how lucky we are to be here.
‘At the same time, I never really feel like the world fits me. I feel extremely lucky to be in this world, with all this opportunity, but it feels like it’s my responsibility to make something of it. All the tools we have at our fingertips. I see how other people use the tools, and that can be inspiring, but I never feel comfortable using them in exactly the same way. So I guess I see the world differently, already, and I feel like I need to put that into some sort of art to feel like I belong. Does that make any sense?’
Casey nodded. ‘Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think I feel the same way. Do you know what you are trying to bring into the world?’
‘I don’t actually know,’ Camille said. ‘That’s part of what’s so frustrating. I started with drawing and writing poetry, but I feel like that’s just a foundation. It’s sort of where everyone starts. Now I’m beginning to question whether either of those are really my calling. Or maybe calling is the wrong way to look at it.’
‘Maybe,’ Casey said. ‘Let me ask you this. Do you ever think about intuition? Like your gut feeling?’
Camille’s stomach tightened up a bit. ‘I think about it all the time,’ she said quietly.
‘Do you think that’s maybe what you mean by “calling”?’
‘I guess you could call it that,’ said Camille. ‘But I was thinking of it more like destiny as a whole. I’m not sure if I really believe that everyone has one true destiny.’
‘Maybe “destiny” is just the word for where you end up when you let your intuition lead you.’
‘It’s possible,’ said Camille, ‘but who follows their intuition all the time? Is that really what you would have to do to reach your true destiny?’
‘Maybe it recalibrates when you get off track. Like a GPS.’
‘And a GPS always has the same destination.’
‘That’s one way to look at it, yeah. If you map the metaphor directly. But there’s a chance that the end goal of your destiny also recalibrates.’
‘Then life would have more than one destiny.’
‘If you look at life as a collection of moments. But at any one point in time, you would only have one destiny.’
‘Like if you were to start right now, and follow your intuition everywhere it led you, the result, by this definition, would be your destiny. In ten minutes, you might have slipped up. Maybe your destiny changes. But at that point in time, you still only have one true destiny. Since we only ever exist at one point in time, we only have one destiny at a time. And maybe, no matter what, that’s what you should be chasing.’
‘That feels frustrating. That my destiny could be different five minutes from now.’
‘If you’re not following your intuition,’ Casey said. ‘Are you?’
‘Um,’ Camille said, blushing, ‘I don’t really know.’ She thought for another moment. ‘I don’t think so.’
‘What is your intuition telling you to do, then?’
‘I don’t know,’ Camille said. ‘I told you I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Like, a lot. Almost every day for most of this month. I have a strong feeling that intuition is important. I just don’t know how you can ever truly know when you are following your intuition correctly.’
‘But going back to art,’ Camille said, ‘part of me has been thinking that I might thrive in more analog art. Especially after seeing what you do. I love what you’re doing with all the new technology, but it just doesn’t feel like I will ever be comfortable doing work like that. At least, I’m not now.’
‘So what are you going to do?’
‘Here’s what I was thinking. We are moving into the future so fast, and most artists try and move along with it. They do the newest art in the newest medium and try to make a name for themselves on a new frontier. That’s great, but I don’t know if it’s necessary. I have a different way of looking at the world, as both an individual and as a member of my generation. If I used some older mediums to make art from my perspective, it could be completely fresh. Analog art from someone raised in an Augmented Generation. That’s what I’m picturing.’
‘That makes sense. And you’re right, it’s definitely not what I want to do.’
‘What do you want to do?’
‘Almost the complete opposite,’ Casey said. ‘I want to be one of those artists like you were talking about—rushing into the new frontier. Using this new technology and combining mediums to make something never seen before. That’s where my intuition points me.’
‘I get that, too.’
‘Hey, the world needs all kinds, huh?’ Casey stood up and walked to the open window. ‘I like hanging around people like you. Other creatives. But it’s nice when they are a bit different from me. If they work in a different medium or genre. It’s inspiring.’
‘I agree,’ Camille said. ‘I’m really glad I met you.’
‘I feel the same,’ Carver said. ‘Do you know many people like me here? Many people trying to create something?’
‘Not really,’ said Camille. ‘But I mostly know high schoolers, so maybe that limits my exposure. I mean, obviously I meet people in my art classes, but I don’t think most of them are in it for the same reason I am. I don’t think they actually have a passion for creating something, or see themselves doing it the rest of their lives. It’s like they’re just filling their time while they set their sights on some job after college.’
‘Right. Instead, this will just become something they look back on at my age, remembering the art they did in high school and wondering if that was where their real passion was. They’ll wonder what would have happened had they pursued it.’
‘Was that what happened to you?’ Camille asked.
Casey turned from the window to look at Camille. ‘No. That’s the future that scared the hell out of me. I always felt like there was no other way to live my life but to create. The thought of turning out like that, regretting having never tried, that was my main deterrent from any sort of conventional lifestyle.’ He walked back to sit down on the mat, across from Camille. ‘I had a suspicion that if I let myself feel that sort of regret, I would be dead by my own devices before I turned thirty.’
‘And you’re not thirty yet.’
‘Nope,’ Carver smiled. ‘Four more years. When I was twenty-four, before I moved out here, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to thirty even with my eyes dead-set on a life of creation. But now, you know, I think I will.’ After a moment of silence, he asked, ‘by the way, your parents do know you’re here, right?’
‘Oh,’ Camille said, ‘yes! I told them. Him. It’s just my dad. He trusts me to make my own decisions by now. Plus, he works at the Labs, so he’s been putting in some crazy hours before the rollout of Lucidity.’
‘Oh, wow!’ Casey said. ‘I guess I should have known there would be a lot of Lucid Kids around here. How is it having a dad who works for Lucid Labs? Is it weird?’
‘I don’t know,’ Camille said. ‘I mean, it’s all I’ve ever known. And he’s a really great dad. Like I said, he trusts me, which makes me trust me. And even though he works a lot, it always feels like he’s with me when he’s with me, you know?’
‘Yeah, I get that.’
‘And as far as him working at the Labs, I guess it has its perks. But I also think it’s part of why I’m so skeptical to technology.’
‘I could see that.’
‘Like, I have Lucidity already, but I’ve only used it a couple of times. It freaks me out.’
Casey smiled and shook his head. ‘Damn. We really are opposites in a lot of ways.’
‘Not in the important ones,’ Camille said.
‘No,’ Casey said, ‘I think you’re right. You have a really great head on your shoulders.’
Camille smiled. ‘I actually brought something that I thought you might be interested in.’
Camille grabbed her bag from the side of the mat and pulled out two rectangular objects. They looked like candy, shaped like tootsie rolls, blue with a yellow center.
‘I also have some connections with the BioLabs up at the University of New Idaho,’ she said. ‘You know, where they study the Jungle. We call these “Aubergine” or “Auber”. They were apparently synthesized with plants that only grow in New Idaho.’
‘What do they do?’
‘We don’t know exactly. They seem to work a little differently on everyone who tries them. But for me, I think, it puts me more in touch with my intuition. That’s why I’ve been thinking about it so much lately.’
‘You want me to take drugs with a high schooler.’
That hurt Camille a bit. ‘It’s really subtle. I’m not asking you to, like, take acid or something.’
‘Hm,’ said Casey. ‘Alright. I’m trusting you.’
Thirty minutes after ingesting the substance, both Casey and Camille were feeling the effects.
‘I think I see what you mean,’ Casey said. ‘It’s almost similar to cannabis, where I have thoughts coming at me from all directions. Less aggressive though. I feel like I need my notebook.’
‘I told you,’ Camille said.
‘You’re right. This stuff is pretty awesome.’ Casey grabbed his notebook and set it open on the mat. ‘You said you have a connection? Is there any chance you could get more?’