Poet, writer, philosopher and artist JJ Bitters joins us this week midway through a tour through Europe and Africa. And he’s just come out of the closet…
OK, not that closet! JJ originally wanted to create art without ego, so he chose the pseudonym ‘The Unknown’ to keep is identity separate from his art. But can you survive and get the word out that way – and how much of yourself can you pour into art which is intentionally disconnected from you?
JJ has written about mental health, psychedelic discoveries, deep philosophical questions… and lately he’s been writing children’s poetry that touches both the beauty and wisdom of growth and existence, all accompanied by simple and captivating illustrations.
This beautiful conversation ranges naturally from art to relationships, to the pursuit of happiness and self-knowledge – in fact, it’s precisely for conversations like this that we wanted to have guests on the podcast in the first place. So strap yourself in for a smart, challenging, and ultimately uplifting ride.
We dig in to what creativity is and how we can overcome the resistance we so often face when we seek to be original. Does creation always have to come with or from pain, or is there a better way to route our energies?
‘It’s easy to hang onto the pain, because it’s more extreme – it feels more real. Joy is a little bit more of a cloud.
– JJ Bitters
These days, JJ is a freethinking spirit, but back when he was younger he was practically a religious zealot with his eye set on becoming a priest. Looking back, he spent his youth refusing to have fun or even to masturbate during his prime teenage years! As he puts it now,
‘If religion was alcohol, then I was an alcoholic’
– JJ Bitters
So how does that transformation come about, and what did he learn along the way? It’s been a rocky road – JJ’s suffered with depression for most of his life, but somehow he consciously managed to escape the worst of it. He shares the tactics and mental techniques that have largely freed him from the Noonday Demon, and his philosophy on how we can channel our energy into positive, rather than negative, channels.
We also tackle the question of relationships and break-ups and the havoc they can wreak on our sense of identity. How can we be ourselves and be with someone else?
‘I don’t want to me with someone who needs me. Because that’s a person who has some work to do on themselves’
We even play with the infamous idea of the ‘law of attraction’ – is there any useful reality to it, or is it just whistling in the dark?
JJ and Jon also share some of their deepest psychedelic experiences and turning points – painful and joyful – that have brought them to where they are now.
- Is Andy Warhol art?
- The cognitive dissonance in all of us
- Responsibility as the ‘ability to respond’
- What is happiness?
Find Out More
- JJ’s site, Join The Unknown
- JJ’s Instagram and Facebook page
- JJ’s articles as The Unknown over on HighExistence
- The book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch
- Jon’s article on self-harm and what it means (and how you can help)