Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Thoughts about art
My life on this planet is so brief. I am a visitor who found a messed up world, and I can feel the humanity (out there and in me) scared shitless of death, scared shitless of failure, of hunger, of torture, of rejection, of change, of loss. This humanity torments deep within like a fire, or like a darkness that never gets warm. I have an innermost condition that is literally screaming in terror, tormented by its loveless fate of annihilation, as well as its isolation that leaves it alone in a haunting swamp of disgusting mistrust and exploitation, its isolation alienated and alienating, and alone forever in a prison of mortal flesh and lust that will, in the end, die alone. I have a part of me that hates by the way this world looks (the industry, the war, the pain and misery, injustice, etc, etc) And yet, and yet, there is another part that is only amazed that any of this could be happening at all. It's all so amazing! To quote Kerouac: “this is the impossibility of the existence of anything.” Indeed!
(And when I inquire into my own self, into “who is doing the watching” into the source of my own thoughts and dreams and fears and attachments and desires...when I look for that looker that I am I am stunned and awed at that vast emptiness I find in all direction, behind me and within me, the luminous clearing through which this world I perceive springs forth. Sometimes I lay awake at night waiting for it all to dissolve away, for me to plunge into the deep, dark abyss, the void of sleep, which is my original state before any of this dream world flashed itself before my eyes and took my identity and attention away. I lay awake, breathing, and listening to the thunder roll though my head, and the rain begin to fall in my mind. I listen to the rain as I listen to my thoughts, my doubts, my fears, my dreams, my memories, and I have to confess that they all pass, they all pass through me, not staying even for a second, like a river or stream they pass.
When I think “how can I be useful” or how can I help others while I am in this brief incarnation, as well as “how can I keep a basic sanity while being thrown into such an unjust, insane world,” I stair at myself in the mirror, my drooping eyes, not me, but my mask, and yet, the person I see looks afraid, and yet… I find that the part of me that is sensitive to this world, this suffering I see everywhere, the suffering I see in the mirror, the part of me sensitive to that pain, my "soft spot", holds within its tender hands as a precious gift the answer: Compassion.
Compassion holds a space that resonates as sanity, as freedom, as care, as concern, as consciousness. Compassion is the key, or so it seems to me. I can generate more of this love, more of this care, within myself, and, if I succeed, I can leave this world with a little bit more compassion, a little bit more care, than there was when I found it.
Whenever I feel the doubt; or whenever I feel as if I am not doing enough to help, I can look into that place, that place where I care about all the suffering beings, and I can find my savior, my guide, my compassion.
Hopefully, I can then direct some of this into my actions, into my life situation. Right now I am a painter. I paint paintings that I hope others can feel comfortable around, can fall into, can take refuge in and rest. I paint pretty paintings. Is that good enough? Sometimes I wish I was like my dad, a doctor, where it is clear; someone needs help, I can help them. Easy. No question THAT is helping. Can I use my paintings to help people? To help heal like a doctor? Can I help people find rest, even if just for a moment? This world needs more rest. Needs more sanity. Can I share hope? Can I share peace with the use of my art? That is my wish. I feel it singing out from my heart. I want to help! But how can I? What is the best way?
Artists want to share what they know, and what they know is important, they think. Or maybe the artist wants to show the viewer what the viewer knows. Show them what it is that they posses and can use to help free themselves, or to help keep their own minds sane and secure. Maybe the artist wishes to show the viewer that this world is a shimmering reflection of energy and changing processes. Maybe the artist wants to show that fear and anger and hatred and love and passion indeed exists inside us all. Maybe, just maybe, artists are providing mirrors for us to look into and find not our individual selves staring back, but our highest positional, our highest Self, our divine nature or ground that exists behind our eyes, our connection to spirit just waiting to be discovered or remembered. (art is a mirror shining deep into the part of our psyche that intersects God/dess, or something.) I think art has proven to be used for all these things.
We could say that artists depict what they see as attractive. It might not always be beautiful, but it is always attractive, attractive because it is true. They see a world that they wish to translate into a visual language for an audience. Why? Possibly it's because the artists want to save the world. flat out. (I know I do.)
Did art come from the heavens, from aliens, or does it come from some unknown and unseen source that is the ground from which all thoughts and ideas spring forth? To me, art holds my mind, holds my attention, and I can, for a moment, feel something mysterious. I don’t know what, but when I leave a gallery or museums or studio, I feel recharged, filled with new ideas, and a new appreciation for this nature I continually find myself living in.
Maybe the purpose of art is to feed the Spirit, and not a Spirit like a mythic God, but the Human Spirit, the shared humanity within us all. Maybe it is to feed our sense of sanity? As Kandinsky put it, the purpose of art is to “proclaim the reign of Spirit…to proclaim light from light, the flowing light of the Godhead…” And this proclaiming art can be anything, really, because, as the mystics point out, the light of the godhead is present in all realms of the human experience, from a flower or landscape, to color fields and abstractions, to sculptures and painting of the human body, whatever. The content of the art makes no difference, as long as it points to the “reign of Spirit.” Or to quote Ken Wilber: “Art is the Beauty of Spirit as it expresses itself on each and every level of its own manifestation.” the landscape and lust of the earth.
It is known that art does indeed affect the viewer in ways they are not completley aware of. This includes very physical reactions to colors. For example, a juicy red might remind the viewer of a bloody accident and their body might tense up, or the softness of a blue might remind the body of swimming in the ocean, and the body might relax (or tighten up). To quote Kandinsky: “Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” Music is the same. It enters directly into the deepest parts of the soul or psyche, feeding or massaging or rearranging the subtle energies there, which then correlate with physical responses such as tension or relaxation, anger or joy, contraction or release. And the body and mind carries the music or art forward into its life, for once the music or art enters the being, the being is changed forever. How romantic.
In art school we learn about how striving for creativity and uniqueness can produce art that is only understood by a few other artists or intellectuals, while the masses are left untouched and unmoved. This art usually also carries with it vanity, greed, pride, and and atmosphere of elitism that pollutes the mind and the world. It is taught that only when we relax into our own "uncontrived naturalness", our own intuition, that real creativity can spring forth, and it will be a creative impulse that is understood intuitively by everyone, uplifting each and all to a wider identity full of new hopes and dreams and potentials. Romantic?, yes.
I am going to write a lot about the process of making art and the strange impulse to create and how that effects me and viewers, and I hope that you reading this will respond and give me insight into how art (mine or anyone else’s) effects you. Please help me with this.
Posted by David at 2:34 PM
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