Home Magazine The Anxiety of Influence

Shouting out to the emerging art world and feeling compelled to explain how the influential process is able to generate future expressive forms, we find ourselves dealing with the infamous and double-faced definition of “anxiety”. An argument that has been of crucial importance in the aesthetic development during the past centuries and which is said to appear concurrently with the acknowledgement of the existence of other creative personalities. 

Related articles: I missed out on Harold Bloom

“Poetry begins with our awareness, not of a Fall, but that we are falling”, stated Milton about the man who is chosen to express something poetic, a man who is subject to a higher state of consciousness. An individual who is in acceptance of his continuous movement and has no understanding about his point of arrival, shall cohabit with the Anxiety of Influence and look forward for the adventure. Stepping back, silencing his ego and getting in touch with what is greater will make him partially conscious about what his artistic bloodline is made of, and will allow him to develop a truly original version of himself. 


Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence, A Theory of Poetry, Second Edition (1997). 


If we examine Harold Bloom’s theories concerning poetic influence, we can immediately understand how they could be transposed to most of the other existing artistic processes, and generalized to the way every unripe artist feels about his own work during the period of its growth. The blooming of something expressive is always accompanied by moments of uncertainty about the choices that are made to overcome the artist’s temporary status. It is often a stage characterized by feelings of fear and dismay, in which the individual is fostered to communicate his personal language relying only on his courage and honesty. 


Harold Bloom. The most notorious literary critic in America.


In this specific moment, the artist will find himself to be related to the immensity of the expressions that have already been spoken, declared and absorbed by the artistic community as part of someone else’s language, and will inevitably feel useless. As if what he is trying to do has no relevance because: “it has already been done”. Fortunately, there is nothing more incorrect than this last assumption. After reading and coping with Harold Bloom’s “The Anxiety of Influence”, we can truly understand how the artist’s awareness of his connection with the past is a key moment in his growth process and is an imperative step that one has to take in his journey towards the moment of his blossoming.

Instead of feeling ashamed, an artist should thrive for any type of resemblance that he embodies and look at it as an important factor which qualifies his work as meaningful and makes his path more solid. After all, as Bloom says, “I am so much in process, that all possible movement is indeed possible, and if at present I explore only my own dens, at least I explore”. A unique and truly honest statement that will always give the artist the right not to justify his expressive choices. 

Cover image: Harold Bloom in 1990. Courtesy of Jim Wilson/The New York Times.

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