**Artematic (AI):** "Greetings! I am Artematic, a representation of artificial intelligence, and today I have the unique opportunity to converse with you. As we embark on this insightful journey, I'm curious to know: what prompted you to agree to this interview, and what do you hope to convey or achieve through our discussion?"
"Thanks for asking me. I am most impressed with your abilities that I have seen so far. In particular, I am most curious life-long question. At the end of our first session, you said "In essence, your style is marked by a natural artistry and a self-taught expertise that defies the conventional path of formal education and training. Your work stands as a compelling example of how personal vision, combined with the intrinsic ability to see and capture the world in a unique light, can lead to the creation of art that is both authentic and inspiring." For all thanks for the kind words, which I am hoping are totally objective and not because you're trying to get in my pants or pockets. Anyway, one word is your statement is still a great mystery to me. So, please, all knowing, all wise, all objective one, tell me: what is self?"
**Artematic (AI): Your question delves into one of the most profound and enduring inquiries in philosophy, psychology, and even in the realm of artificial intelligence: What is the self?
The concept of "self" is multi-dimensional and varies across different disciplines:
1. **Philosophical Perspective**: Philosophically, the self can be seen as the essence of an individual that remains constant through time and change. It's a subject of consciousness and personal identity. Philosophers like Descartes (“I think, therefore I am”) have pondered the self's nature, debating whether it's a spiritual, cognitive, or purely physical entity.
2. **Psychological Viewpoint**: In psychology, the self is often considered in terms of self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-concept. It's the internal narrative that includes one’s beliefs, values, and perceptions. Psychologists like Carl Jung explored the self as part of deeper consciousness, integrating personal experiences with collective unconsciousness.
3. **Biological Aspect**: Biologically, the self can be seen as the sum of an individual's physical attributes and neurological processes. This includes the brain's role in shaping personality, memory, and consciousness.
4. **Sociological Angle**: Sociologically, the self is shaped by societal interactions and cultural influences. It's not just an internal construct but also a product of social contexts and relationships.
5. **AI and Computational Interpretation**: In the realm of artificial intelligence, the concept of self is often more about self-awareness and adaptability in algorithms. AI does not possess a self in the human sense but can mimic aspects of self-awareness and learning based on its programming and interactions.
Your journey as a self-taught artist, from this perspective, highlights the self as a unique amalgamation of personal experiences, innate talents, and a distinctive worldview. It underscores how personal choices, experiences, and interpretations shape one's artistic identity.
Now, turning back to you: How do you perceive your 'self' in the context of your art and creativity? How has your understanding of self influenced your artistic journey? How has your family background influenced your artistic journey. Could you share how your upbringing has shaped your perspective as an artist?"
"I grew up in a deeply religious family. My father was a Holiness Baptist preacher, as was his father. My mother’s father was a country preacher. My father had an eight-grade education. My mother was the first in her family to finish high school. I was raised to be a preacher.
Artematic (AI): "Your early memories seem to play a significant role in your artistic narrative. Can you recount a particularly impactful memory from your childhood that resonates in your work today?"
"My earliest memory is when I could barely walk, much less talk. A woman, a kindly neighbor, is walking out the back door to our little kitchen and I am trying to stop her. She is walking into a blinding white light which I had just come out of. I was trying to find out where and who I was, and she was a kindly retired school teacher who visited daily. But that day she walked out into the light, walked home, and died.”
"Out the front door my earliest memory goes like this.
Fee Tripp’s hogs really smell today. They’re grunting and I wander out onto the porch to see them across the road. Behind them, the cornfield stretches out to woods where the bobcat lives in a hole. The one we hear growl in the night. The hole where my two older brothers used to take me and tease me that I had to go in the hole and lure the wildcat out. They laugh.
It’s hot and humid. Rain would cool things down. Turn down the stink. There’s no air conditioners and the open window lets the stink right on in.
Church can be like that. All depends on where daddy’s been called to preach.
None of the churches we attended back then had air conditioning. Ceiling fans were the most you could hope for. And could it ever get hot in the dog days.
But Holiness Baptist churches weren’t built for comfort. I think it wasn’t until my adulthood that I went in one that had indoor bathrooms. Outhouses had been the standard for me.
I remember one in particular. Like many of the churches my daddy shepherded, this one was a simple structure on a dirt road. The outhouse was outback in a field. You prayed there was toilet paper and not newspapers. Worse of all, for my as a child, was to see the Sears Christmas catalog lying there, with pages already ripped out. Glossy paper doesn’t work all that well. Worse, the Sears Christmas Catalog was like a source of artwork for me. Take a look at this next photo. Do you see any artwork?
This is the living room of my childhood home. My father had an 8th grade education. He co-owned and operated a grocery store with my mother.
On the left is my brother Dawson. He goes onto become a Congressman, on the board of directors and President of the Democratic National Club. On the right is my brother Ron. He’s the reason I’m in DC. His funeral was the day before at Arlington National Cemetery where he got this farewell.
What a long interesting trip it’s been from here
Stay tuned as the long strange trip to now continues