Charlotte Light and Dark
The terminology is lightworkers and darkworkers.
Lightworkers are people who devote themselves to others, see others as extensions of themselves, achieve higher consciousness by making things happen for other people and increasing the net awesome of the world, not by working for themselves, but by laboring for the advancement of others.
Darkworkers are people who devote themselves to their own advancement, who are driven by the desire to control their own reality and accomplish things for themselves. They achieve higher consciousness by increasing their personal power.
Now that last is a lot nicer way of putting it than Pavlina, and almost anyone I've heard use these words, manages when talking about darkworkers. They lie and manipulate and suck energy from lightworkers and are selfish and mean and bad. Pavlina also says that walking a middle path between these two will never get you as far on your path as devoting yourself to one alone.
So basically, there are good people and bad people. Let's just leave aside the usefulness of dividing the world like that, which I really think is none. On the other hand, what self help gurus do, essentially, is come up with metaphors that the rest of us can chew on and learn form and spit out if we need to and I keep thinking about this one, because I don't know where the artist fits into it. But more on that in a second.
First of all, the language is SO VERY SKEWED HERE. Obviously we're all lightworkers because we're all good people, right? And those nasty other folks we don't like, they're darkworkers because light is good and dark is bad. Note there are no long essays on how to be a good and effective darkworker (because it's actually not very groovy to leave a wake of shattered people behind you, it doesn't serve even selfish purposes to have no one want to work with you.) Lightwork is the only way to fly. Of course, if lightworkers see others as extensions of themselves, then their work is also selfish, and frankly, I find people who think I am only an extension of them to be rather creepy and upsetting and not very generous or kind at all.
Of course there are bad and selfish people in the world--but to divide everyone into two categories (LOVE AND FEAR) and call it a day basically declares war if anyone ever takes it seriously and I don't find that to be very "light" at all. Why is it a sin to take care of yourself, pursue your ambitions, seek control over your life? Why is it a virtue to exercise no control, let life take you where it will, and ask nothing for yourself? Obviously asking this makes me a darkworker. But it is possible to pursue one's own dreams and goals without being a total douchebag.
And so this brings me to: exactly where does an artist fit in to this horrible little binary?
Notice I don't capitalize it--I hate even using the word, really, because people often decorate themselves with it to excuse aforementioned total douchebaggery. But being an artist right now, in this world, is a brutal fucking business, and just the very act of wanting to make art is kind of selfish, isn't it? What I have to say is important and not only should you read it you should pay me for it? But at the same time, books and music and art enrich the lives of others--that is their entire point. Is the musician with a song for every fire a darkworker because she spends her waking hours thinking of ways to live by her craft and get her albums into the world? Is the writer who wants to continue to work, who wants control over his creations and to be recognized by his peers a darkworker because he is ambitious and devoted to his books? Yet the singer has a song for anyone who asks, and the writer has a story for those who need it. They want to succeed for their own happiness, yes, but without others and without touching their lives, what is the point of any of it?
I certainly don't like hearing that I'm a darkworker because I don't see everyone else as an extension of myself (what a sociopathic idea) and am driven. I don't think one can really have control over much of one's own reality, but certainly I control what I choose and who I am (most of the time) and I have chosen a life devoted to my own work. And yet, part of that work is helping younger writers to learn and get a leg up in the industry--one of the big lessons of a writing career is that the sales and success of others does not impinge on your own. You are good and they are good and your main competition is always yourself, which will never stop being capable of making crappy art. There are enough resources to go around, most of the time.
I don't necessarily want to come down on the side of "you have to have both." There are people who suck the energy right out of you and are only out for themselves. There are people who give everything they have to others. But it galls me how simplistic that is--and plenty of people who give their energy freely do it because they believe they deserve nothing better and destroy themselves in the process. And some of the people out for themselves start companies and make movies and run websites and even countries. Sometimes badly, sometimes well. I don't believe anyone who runs a country does it out of purely altruistic drives.
I guess I'm rambling at this point. But I came across the words again today and they made me as mad as they ever have. It's just not that simple. We're not just binaries where some are good and unselfish and some are bad and selfish. I write a blog. I do it for me and I do it to communicate and maybe sometimes I help somebody. But I still also do it because it brings me pleasure and I like it when people comment. Is it light or dark? I'd bet Elizabeth Moon wrote her essay as she did with the bet of intentions of communicating clearly and conversing with other humans. It doesn't make what she did any less ugly. Light or dark? The whole thing just makes me growl and my ornery nature makes me want to say fuck yeah I'm a darkworker just to show that you can want things for yourself and be ambitious as hell without being the actual freaking devil. Without ambition I'd just stare at the computer and eat bachelorette chow til I died.
We love binaries because everything in our culture is set up around them. Light and dark, yin and yang, good and evil. But they are poison and lead inevitably to the worst one: us and them.