The great fear is perpetual turd polishing, that yesterdays little baby was in fact a giant useless piece of shit that needs flushing. The great waste is hoarding work expecting that some day its inherent value will increase like wine in a cask.
One might consider art an exercise to develop self, but if the past is just training for that which is to come then should the fruit of that labor be disposable or hidden like a dirty secret. Art created in a vacuum might serve some cathartic purpose of time passage but will doubtful bring the outcome of self expression the artist needs. Art by its nature demands a sacrificial victim to experience the creation. Its reward center craves the notice of another for the price of sharing. Value allotted to art lies solely with the beholder. Take a look at the works of Basquiat for example: childish, simple, however lauded and applauded, held in high esteem by collectors, highly priced. What is it that sets these works apart? Certainly we are somewhat attracted to the lives of these artists, elevating value with the use of celebrity and hype. Ideally the childish free playing artist presented to the masses will die young leaving the collectors to hype and create inflated value for the now obligation free investment. The value of abstraction will always be questionable, and most of the time a name is all that matters...I digress.
I think I'm presenting a case for outsider music, the schizophrenic on a Casio keyboard. They are found on the street their dedication brings them to the attention of at least a select few who herald it as innovative and original. Its existence goes against everything the mainstream wishes to cram down our collective throats.
This does not serve the evolving artist seeking technical mastery behind creativity. I venture to say that the artist in pursuit of this virtuoso goal will never be able to achieve it because the horizon of quality will always be over the next mountain. It seems such a waste that those early mountains should be lost. Thus reiterating whether or not one should go back to early works to "fix" them with quality and skills acquired in later life.
I seem to be on the fence about this issue because I would rather move on and create something new than spend my time re-examining and repairing my past. Yet I am reluctant to let go even of things that now serve only as embarrassing milestones. Occasionally I think that kid as stupid and naive as he was had some decent ideas. Most of those thoughts were incomplete and crippled from inception. They laid dormant on hard drives for years. Stealing precious gigabytes and waiting to be nurtured from inadequacy into a state of sharability. Growth and life experience leads us away from that place and now as a completely different person it seems pointless to have these immature ideas lingering around and taking up space. By Beiber standards they could have been great, but who is holding them self to Bieber standards. That silliness needs be delivered by a 15-23 year old like the one that wrote it. That silliness needs someone like the grown up I am now make it good. That moment has passed, I am different, the culture is different, and going back to reshape my little gremlin babies seems wrong but necessary if I was to proudly present them to the light of day.
These works I have snuck into being invisibly available to the scrutiny of the public eye. The cost is seeking them, which turns out is a lofty price to pay. I create some new name for an old thing and banish it to exile in some dark corner of the web, mostly to keep them from dying, or at least tell myself I didn't kill them. When these works were made there was no YouTube or Bandcamp, or ReverbNation. MySpace was the start of all that, and even that was late to the party. So the works have served no purpose in exposure. Instead it's me that now needs to shine a light on these blighted creations. I want them to go be their own thing. Their connection to my name leads me to prefer that they fit the personal brand I now seek to maintain, but instead they represent a kid I once was. I love them for that but they exist as reminders that that kid wasn't good enough.
In today's society who we are and what we show are expected to be two separate things. The past that helped arrive somewhere is not so important as where the public eye sees and recognizes our current position.
Ideally that current position would be above the herd so that they might look up in adoration and respect or envy and loathing... As long as they are looking.
The great fault lies in not putting each thing out as it comes. YouTube is littered with kids posting amateur videos, some of these videos launch careers and pave the way to work with talents that compensate and elevate the artists brand allowing their genius to shine down upon the masses. In the new world of "Content Is King", quality may not be as important as it once was. Polished can come across as fake, amateur can come across as genuine.
Perhaps our evolution can be an inspiration to help another start challenging them self. Perhaps improving our old art can help us develop new skills or help us touch back on a commercial sensibility rejected along the way. All I know is if I stop creating, I might as well be dead. The stuff I'm making now I'm pretty happy with. 5 years from now I'll probably feel like it's garbage, and that's ok because that means I'm getting better.