Obsession is a funny thing. No great work of art or music, scientific discovery, or even religious crusade can ever have happened without it. Yet there are so many who see it as a bad thing. It in itself is not. It’s like anything else. Passion, anger, devotion etc. It’s how healthy that obsession is that matters. I have been called ‘obsessive’ many times. My internal answer has always been ‘so fucking what?’ mainly because it’s been leveled at me by people who don’t know any better, or have no need for it in their lives.
In recovery groups, where you’re told ‘no one here is judging’ you, I’ve been judged a couple of times on this subject by dullards. I once mentioned to an ‘elder’ recoveree that when home video came out, I would go through phases of liking a certain actor, so would rent just his movies for a while (I had a fondness for James Woods, then Michael Keaton, then Steven Segal). “Oh, that’s obsessive”, he judged. Now, you can accuse me of dodgy tastes, certainly, but obsessiveness? They have that same ‘obsession’ nowadays. It’s called ‘boxsets’, motherfucker! Same guy accused me of being obsessive because I let slip I collected sci-fi magazines. It’s called a hobby. Plus, being an artist, of a mainly sci-fi bent, I needed a lot of photo references. We didn’t have google in the 90s. Fuck you.
I also spent a good deal of my adult life videotaping, and cataloging all my favourite sci-fi shows, for posterity say. I was a fan. I was one of hundreds I knew who did this. It was OUR fileshare. Although it DID begin after a break up with my first real love, and I guess I needed something to keep my mind occupied. A friend ventured the opinion that his girlfriend’s mother said it was obsessive of me. Well, bully for her. Yes, my video collection got a bit out of hand, but looking back on it, it was the only structure I had in my life, when all else was falling down around me. Just like my dad kept books and records of all the pigeons he raced. Was THAT obsessive? No, a man needs something that is his, that he can compartmentalise away from whatever else he has to share his head with, be it family, or work, or heartbreak, or any other adult responsibility.
Anyone who has exceeded at anything, good OR bad, has had to have that basic obsession to begin with. Have a sift through any of my own art on this site. Particularly anything with dots or cross-hatching. They positively reek of obsession. But they’re also probably my best pieces. Think I could have done them without my obsession?
Now, of course, there is the unhealthy obsession. Usually the type a jilted lover has for an ex, someone who may not have quite gotten why the relationship ended. Most of us confine that to a drunken text every now and again. I’ve done it myself. Quite a lot, actually. I’ve had to reel myself in a bit, in fact. But then there’s the type that will stalk that person. Thankfully, I’ve not gone down that road. Obsession is a tougher deal when it comes to love though, especially love’s aftermath. I’ve been called obsessive about a certain ex, for instance, but for me it’s not. I still see her face in certain other women’s, and still feel that pang when it happens. It’s somewhere between heartbreak and obsession, but at the same time I couldn’t tell you what she’s up to tonight, or even wonder what she’s doing right now with who. I just lament what could have been, but expect it will fade in time.
Some of us have phases, some of us feel passion, some of us will zone in on certain things, to cope, or to explore where we go next, but to just dismiss that person’s revery or over-enthusiasm as ‘oh, you’re just obsessive’… well… it’s a dismissal usually only leveled by unimaginative plodders, and I for one am glad to be lumbered with that obsession. It’s my superpower. I feel sorry for ye that aren’t blessed with it.