In order to live an honest life one must learn to deny. Denial is the only way in which one can affirm anything in life.
One must deny everything, existence itself even in order to possibly affirm anything and start affirming their own lives. This is an idea that Heidegger is known for focusing on and that he got right: affirming anything is denying everything else.
In order to really live though one has to learn how to reach deep down into the chasm of Nothing and Everything and drag that which they affirm out of the depths.
The great souls are those who know how to deny everything in the world in order to affirm only that which they truly want. The great souls of history are simultaneously the great Deniers and Affirmers of life.
To even begin on the way towards truly living for oneself and creating their life as a work of art. One has to deny everything the have ever been taught or known. Social norms, common knowledge, uncommon knowledge they all must be denied. Fully denied. Only then can you reach into the swirl of Nothing and Everything and affirm that which you want in order to create and affirm your own life.
You have to even deny your senses so that you learn how to perceive only that which you care to perceive. The life of the Ascetic is half-way performing this very denial. They deny all of that which they feel or perceive to pull themselves away from the world, they forget an important step in this denial though: affirmation.
This is the important part of any denial, the corresponding affirmation. In order to fully deny anything you have to affirm something else. Deny the existences of yourself, your identity and your individuality and you are affirming the existence of the group and community. Deny the existence of others and affirm your very own life. Deny the existence of universal truth and you affirm the existences of your very own truth. Everyone does this affirmation and denials to some extent every day, just not to the extent needed.
Artists and scientists both partake in this affirmation and denial process. Artists are sadly the last place where this affirmation and denial has a chance to become a true skill and that is likely to be lost soon enough.
The scientist causes more problems than they are worth though: the scientist attempts to affirm everything and deny nothing. They try to affirm the entire world so that they can learn how it “works.”
The artists on the other hand are still able to deny everything they deem unworthy for their art, or “ugly” and affirm all of that which they deem worthy and beautiful for their art.
The artist is the one who can create anew and the artist is in everyone to the extent which they allow. The internal artists forces itself out as much as possible in every individual, normally through their own tastes and interests, there aren’t many who don’t have some sort of preference musically or artistically or some sort of hobby. These tastes are minor denial-affirmations, they deny other forms which are distasteful and affirm those which flow well with the individual. This is the artist and this is a true life.
Affirm and deny, be the artist of your life.