Right now I am reading a book (book review forthcoming) written from a Mormon who was born a Catholic whose search for the identity and extent and core of Christianity has the motive and agenda of presenting Mormonism and other marginal Christian groups (of which I happen to belong to one) as being part of genuine Christianity due to belief and practice. In many ways I feel ambivalent about such an effort, given that I dislike courting popularity and think it is rather fruitless to attempt to gain favor from those who are prejudiced and who are not willing or able to see one’s behavior or grant respect to one’s perspective, but on the other hand I cannot fail to be appreciative for those who put themselves out in the attempt to grant my own perspective greater legitimacy, however fruitless such efforts may be.
There is always a tension between inside and outside for any creative person, a tension on several levels. One tension is that exhibited by the book which I am currently reading. To write with some degree of objectivity about something or someone requires a certain amount of emotional distance so that one can record truth without being offended by it. At times we can have that emotional distance about ourselves and those we care about, but it often requires a bit of compartmentalization of people so that we can show our feelings (even fierce ones) while retaining some level of decorum and respect for them as well. Whether that compartmentalization is a good thing or a bad thing is not something I really can speak about with any degree of confidence or certainty. Sometimes we have to engage in such behavior as a survival skill, even if has definite drawbacks, including a great deal of complexity in our mentality and worldview. On the other hand, creativity tends to spring from those inspirations that are closest to home and often carry a great deal of emotional importance and even baggage. Speaking personally, those things that I am compelled to write about spring from very personal and emotional grounds, however rationally and intellectually they may be expressed. The concerns that fill my public discourse are not accidental in nature.
Other aspects of inside and outside concern a larger community. I have always tended to view myself as an outsider in the institutions and communities of which I am a part. Part of the reason for that is my peripatetic lifestyle, which has led me to feel rather without the sort of roots that help people feel comfortable and at home on a regular basis, except among close friends, part of it is due to the anxieties I have about the way I am treated or viewed by others (whether peers or authority figures), and part of it is due the my lack of familiarity with feeling like an insider. I enjoy being friendly and sociable with outsiders, acting as a sort of a social gatekeeper  letting others know that someone is a friendly stranger. (It should be noted that my concern with writing about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is motivated by similar gatekeeping concerns as well). As an insider there are a lot of advantages, though, in terms of knowing how to address one’s concerns and receive respect for what one thinks, advantages that lead most people to seek and obtain insider status whenever it is available to them.
As a creator inside and outside matters in at least one other way as well, and that is the aspect of our own minds. A creative person is compelled to create from what is inside of them (hopefully that is good, but it is not necessarily so). However, for creativity to be well-informed, it needs to include information from the outside world, whether that is information on how to improve one’s skills or how one’s creations are viewed by the outside world, or experiences to inspire further creations. In this case the outside wants in and the inside wants out as well, in that we are compelled to create from what is inside of us, but we are also willing to experience life and what it has to offer, and be willing to sort through the implications of what we have experienced and use it as the fuel for new creations. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is hard to say; it simply is what it is.