"Take 'myself'," Akira Kurosawa is reputed to have once said, "subtract 'movies', and the result is 'zero'."
It's always disturbed me a little, now that I think about it, to consider how some people have under it all lived only for their art. They may have married, had children, gone to weddings and funerals, weeded their front lawns and washed their cars, held down day jobs and worked third shifts. But the real moment when they lived was when they sat down at their desk and put words on paper, or put a pigment on a canvas, or pointed a camera at something, or stood on a stage. Those moments were living; everything else was just existing.
Romanticism. That's what it is; it's the romanticism of patterning yourself after other lives, seen only in retrospect. I think of Dostoevsky and Philip K. Dick, and I think of them finding themselves in their art — not scrabbling for money, not waking up in the middle of the night with breathing problems. The fact that they left behind these great things is supposed to negate all that.
The problem is that nobody lives like that — or, if they do, it's not a model to emulate. Nobody lives as a true aesthete; nobody exists as nothing but the delivery mechanism for a work of art, no matter how nifty it might seem. It's not even that it's undesirable; it's just plain impossible. At some point the pains in your knee, the phone call alerting you to the death of your father, the end of your own life, all interrupt the plan.
It took a long time for me to come around to the understanding that this stuff doesn't "get in the way". Anything that gets in the way is the way; it just doesn't look like it right then. It definitely doesn't look like it when all you can think about is posterity's reception and not the far more immediate facts of the end of this sentence, or the vexing question of what to have for dinner tonight.
It took me a long time to realize Kurosawa was not recommending such a philosophy. He was describing his plight. He was lucky enough to find a way to live it down, but that doesn't mean we should follow gamely along.