The Promising Poppy Syndrome.

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Art, under this current right-wing government has become a dirty word…probably because in these times of economic rationalism, the spending of monies on things that cannot show an immediate “bottom-line” profitability is considered money NOT well spent. Curious that, as in days of yore, many far-right regiems would invest big-bucks in works of art and even use such to legitimise their governance…I am thinking of the Medici’s sponsoring of several now revered artists and architects of that era…and even several Popes in the Vatican pumped God’s lucre into creative works.. But with these times of art becoming both a comercialised commodity and a thing to fear by the right, the encouragement of the serious amateur artist is something somewhat avoided…and many are left to flounder about in abject poverty at the mercy of their own devices.

It’s a curious thing, and unlike the Tall Poppy Syndrome, where a person of well-known repute is attacked for being TOO obvious or famous, the promising poppy is attacked by their closest people from their own class BEFORE they can scale the ladder to known or appreciated works…when they first show signs of talent or ambition to venture into a skilled area of craft or artistic ability. The curious thing is that the budding talent is not destroyed by a more skilled operator, THAT may come later, but first they are humiliated or debased by some of their own level of class…by their peers..those who see themselves as a kind of “gatekeeper” of the status quo…always fearfully on the lookout for that most dangerous of agitators..; the “out of control talent” that may throw a spanner in the works of establishment order.

This is managed by those who themselves lack the “risk factor” to reach for that higher plane of achievement, a kind of social sloth, too scared to expose their deepest thoughts or emotions to the hard, sometimes unforgiving glare of public scrutiny, instead hitching their wagon to the safe long-haul star of established reward and flattery..I recall witnessing just such a moment where a young, keen person, in explaining a scenario in a moment of creative enthusiasm, who in lacking any sort of degree of higher education, mispronounced a word which was quickly pounced upon by just such a one of the aforementioned sloths and the conversation was rudely interrupted while the slight mistake of vowel emphasis was sneeringly corrected with a ; “surely you mean. . . ?” and then followed by that social enforcer of belittlement..; the smug and self-confident derisive chuckle…The ruse worked and the enthusiasm of the young person died and a silence of disempowerment descended over the group..The death of creativity was complete.

The objective of established social order is to control the unregulated and creative person or mind, for there has never been throughout history more threatening to authoritarian order than the new idea…a new way of perception borne on the wings of the creative mind…witness Julius Caesar, Galileo, or even here in humble Australia with Albert Namatjira..a superlative creative intellect that was crucified as a kind of “Black Christ” for daring to escape the conditioned cage he and his people  were trapped in.

If there is no direct or deliberate cruelty in such action, there certainly is no kindness, for the humiliation that is delivered on a opportune basis can be both cutting and destructive to both the individual targeted and to any relationship they may be involved with, as each moment of belittlement chips away at the base of a relationship..and it is not as if such an individual may intend to abandon their obligations and responsibilities to family and society, but would give back to that society a hundredfold if encouraged. I recall a conversation with a fellow worker in the building trade who had set aside small brackets of time to pursue their desired calling so as not to deter from family responsibilities, only to then have those moments of reserved quiet interrupted with calls to their attention or chores suddenly dropped upon their shoulders that took them away from their personal fulfilment. This created both doubt in the integrity toward their partner and a resentment to the broader relationship that ate away at the once secure bond of their marriage.

The end objective may not necessarily be to stop completely the promising poppy’s activity, just to break the continuity of practice or perfection to their chosen craft so that they never can competently work toward that perfection of the art…and once enough interruption is done, the  seeds of self-doubt take over and the promising poppy grows forlorn and doubtful of its budding talent so the perpetrator can forever claim to it not being THEY who sabotaged a promising talent, but rather the person themselves lacking that certain skill that would have taken them to the next level of achievement, when in reality, what is most needed is patience in a personal space of time and silence to hone those skills to perfection.

Even in retirement, when one should have the time if also the health to pursue that long-held dream of finally taking up that task of perfecting their skills, the mischievousness of sabotage can creep into their corner..the continued harassment of “jobs that now can be done”…the interruption of that silence needed with calls to their time and person. There is a sadness in all this in that it seems to be mainly those of the working classes..the “useful person” that suffer most the truncated ambition to achieve a dream..If I look back into the past of three female since deceased, I am informed that they all had desires to reach for a higher objective than what their growing years of penury dished up to them..One wanted to be a writer, another a painter and the third a more pragmatic Vet….None however achieved their goal, even though they all chipped away with their hopes..and then their parents stealing away any capacity of making their lives more promising by frittering away a chance benevolence of enough money that could have set the family up with a more secure lifestyle…the selfishness of that action sealing the fate of their daughters ambitions by necessity forcing them into marriages that took away any hope of self achievement.

Society too, has means and methods of locking out those who aspire to grace the art of their country with at least a little of their imagination…Society has framed those who “deserve” their work to be displayed with a border of “recognised training” in a certified institution that “honours” their students with an embossed paper that legitimises a certain level of imagination…a certain level and no more…some go on to a higher plane, encouraged by a network of access to openings of opportunity..while most are satisfied with that certificate of diploma that guarantees at least recognition of attendance and even less application to the chore of originality…I see this “validation” of art to be the new direction of what is little more than the old Australian “cultural cringe”, where an “authority of accreditation” must place a stamp of approval on a work before that work can be accepted as a work of art.

These institutionalised “keepers of the flame”, even though their qualifications may be for subjects completely alien to the one of artistic application, say ; social science or perhaps psychology, they will STILL insist that a amateur scribbler adhere to their most strident interpretation of grammatical purity even while one is striving in a different direction with poetic licence…and once again the low level of mockery is applied and one can be taken back to that instance of the mispronounced word accompanied by the silent chuckle of derision…it is why so many “approved graduates” strive for the glittering prizes handed out to the favoured sons and daughters of those “noble institutions” solid built of sandstone but resting on foundations of clay.

It must be remembered and must be held close to the heart of the dedicated and honest promising poppy that the whole world of the established status quo runs on bluff and they have neither the right, capacity nor dignity to either correct your grammar or steer your ambition. Far too many decent but shy artists have been crushed by the juggernaut of petty jealousy of those who want creative originality but cannot achieve it and those who never had the courage and will not gain it.

A Place of One’s Own.


Within everybody’s heart ,

There is that little pump.

And in the still of the night,

You can hear its tremulous thump.


Within everybody’s heart,

There is a little room.

Upon the wall there is a picture

Of a place we silently yearn.


To some it is just a fantasy,

A desire they can’t fulfill.

Some will strive to seek it…

Some have not the will.


And some will substitute

A lesser philosophy

To dull and blind the senses

To a love they will not see.


We will survive.

2 thoughts on “The Promising Poppy Syndrome.

  1. Hello, Uta…I didn’t think of it that way, but yes…there is a Machiavellien plot in there somewhere!…But I do have a story in the works about one of those sisters…


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