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The Art of Being Nobody

Again I find myself months between blog posts, struck by a random burst of inspiration to write on a topic that's been sitting in my drafts for quite some time. This one won't be political or spiritual or an egotistical rant praising my own work ethic (at least as far as I can help it), but instead serves as a simple explanation of why I choose the moniker "Nobody."

To start, I want to go ahead and out myself. My name is Toby Thompson, and I am a 25-year-old, straight, cis-gender, white male from Wyoming. Considering the majority of my website views come from Facebook links, though, you probably knew that already--shoutout grandma. But if you're one of the two viewers from India, then congrats: you now know my defining demographics. Feel free to wreak as much havoc as you can with that information.

For a long time I debated trying to conceal my identity within the context of this website and my social media platforms, at least to people outside of my immediate circles. There are a lot of artists who do this successfully (I'm looking at you Deathpact), and they create a certain level of magic through their artistic anonymity; their creations are extricated from their identity, allowing their consumers to enjoy their brilliance in a vacuum from their human successes and shortcomings. Can you imagine being able to listen to The Life of Pablo without the words "slavery is a choice" playing in the back of your mind? Though I've never engaged in public ignorance of that magnitude (frantically scrolls through 14-year-old Toby's instagram to double-check), the allure of nameless creativity still spoke to me. I wanted my art and writing ability to speak for itself, untethered from the hands behind the page; I wanted people to stumble across my instagram page and think, "whoever this person is, their art fucking SLAPS." I wanted my art to exist apart from my ego--though judging by the sentence that precedes this one, you can judge for yourself how that went. More than anything, though, I want my name to reflect my place in the universe, to remind me of the nothingness that I came from and to which I will return.

When I view myself as "Nobody," I humbly and honestly consider my role as it relates to expanding-faster-than-the-speed-of-light universe. I contemplate the speck that I am, throwing paint and poetry desperately onto the walls of Whoville and hoping Horton--or at least another who--takes notice before the great heat death consumes everything. The truth of the matter, though, is that the name "Nobody" will continue to serve as such a reminder regardless of whether or not I choose to hide behind it.

As I've grown, I've come to believe that we should not disentangle creations from their creator. When people listen to "I Believe I can Fly" a part of them should hear the cries of a traumatized minor in the back of their head as well; when people watch "The Birds," they should feel disgust for Hitchcock's treatment of Tippi Hedren. Ultimately, I should be held accountable for the opinions that I espouse and the art that I create, and if I fuck up then "Toby" should take the fall--not "Nobody." I believe awareness of own cosmic insignificance and accountability for my words and actions are not mutually exclusive, and that there is therefore space for me to be both "Nobody" and "Toby."

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