Carl Phillips

Another way to think of restlessness: as a form of ambition. Unsatisfied with the given—the usual explanations, the usual goals for and trappings of a life—there are those who push past the given, are willing to enter into uncertainty—to take a risk—in order to get something presumably superior and/or preferable to “the old life.” I don’t mean corporate ambitions, the kind that can lead to and increase in money and power and material possessions—I mean the quest for meaning, for heightened feeling, for expanded vision, even if that should mean that we arrive at what disturbs, leaving us more unsettled, less at rest than we had been. This, I would argue, is the artist’s sensibility. And I’ll point out that it’s not a perverse desire for being disturbed; it’s instead a recognition that growth can’t happen without disturbance, and a realistic understanding of the world as a place where pleasure and its opposite coexist—the artist refuses to ignore it, or perhaps more accurately the artist is incapable of ignoring it, because of a commitment to a knowledge that is absolute, entire, and at last elusive.

The Art of Daring