The thing which affects artists more acutely than regular people is how greatly they feel the weight of loneliness. This weight is so tyrannical that they seek out many ways to shed it, mainly through their creative impulse. But it is a process which never succeeds, for, apart from the momentary orgiastic feeling in the moment that art is expressed and in which the artist jumps out of himself, the loneliness returns. Art and artistic expression deepen the feeling of loneliness through time, but it is not a loneliness which severs and isolates the artist from his or her surrounding, on the contrary, it enables a greater and more intense and attentive form of relationship with nature and life. Loneliness is a weight that constructs painfully through many many years, but it strips to the bones and makes the artist shine in the light of their truth. Blessed are the lonely who turn their loneliness into art.
The moments and experiences that turn into memories and persist within us are always the ones that carry an emotional weight. The rest of the things we go through we do not remember or recall. So our memory and recollection of the world is always subjective, reflecting ourselves and set of emotions and being in that particular moment, the person we were at the time. But, also, the memory which persists within us is not a finished memory or a static image; it changes within us as we change, for the memory itself is always grasped and viewed through the prism of emotions and thought, our growth and maturity, which are ever shifting.
It is not always the experience we go through which creates the memory within us, the opposite can also be true. Some emotions can be so intense that they generate a set of images and feelings that acquire the hue and shape of reality and thus persist within us, becoming more real than reality itself. That is how artists, in particular, grasp the world. But what is true for the artist is also true for the “normal” person. Memory and image making are no passive activity but a creative process that goes down to the very roots of our being and idea of the world. The person is both generator and creator, grasping reality not as a fait-accompli, but always creating it out if the prime material the world and our situation within it provides. In the truest sense, “we are the poets of our lives.”
A summary reading of the history of myths teaches us how religious even the most atheist of us remains; how the religious lives on in us, in our imagination, ideas, impulses, emotions, motives, narratives of life, etc., irrespectively of what our rational mind believes. We remain worshipers in a temple we no longer believe in its existence. We remain idolators of a power in which we ceased to believe, at the very thought of which we cannot hold our laughter, our cynicism — and what is cynicism if not the pain of a wound? We may know a lot more, we moderns, but we feel a lot less and less profoundly, and the world of our feeling, intuition, and imagination has shrunk in proportion to the horizons which our minds have widened. We know no reverence; we are deeply irreverent. The sacred has been expunged from our rational world, and that is a direct correlation with the way we are handling our planet and ourselves.
From a crack in the wall,
a weed sprouts…
the flower of street art
Let them search for you
in their socially acceptable
and well-ordered places;
I look for you in the dirt
since you are the essence
that makes everything grow.
But each gardener
has his own garden and dirt,
the poet’s, the painter’s,
the musician’s, the carpenter’s,
each artist courts you
in the way most endearing
to his abilities and heart,
and you are there,
a temptress in ever shifting forms,
enticing, luring, calling,
offering your body
as a sea to be crafted
(but can the sea be tamed?),
you are there
the flower of a love
that makes the journey worthwhile,
and the seed of the fruit
that makes your garden leap
from heart to heart,
that makes your sea flood
across the ages of mankind.
If there is anything that characterises modern art it is its lack of concentration. Modern artists handle their art no longer as a way to worship and to know and to love their beloved — for this they no longer have the strength of spirit — but as a way to scatter themselves; ultimately, they hunger after their art like an addict after his fix.
Le soir jette
son manteau noir ;
dans la mer de sa peau
mon cœur bat
There is no sense perception that does not immediately transfer itself into our understanding and imagination, gaining interpretation through a moral and aesthetical lens. There is nothing we feel, see, or experience that does not call our entire human history and heritage, cultural, moral, and aesthetical. That a flower is more than a flower — and here we disagree with Science that declares the functionality of things their ultimate truth — is so because since times immemorial the human spirit and imagination interpreted it as so, created it as so. A flower is always more than a flower. And the same is true about every other object of the world, about life itself as witnessed and lived in the human spirit, as created by humanity and the human genius.
I have often heard artists describing how their inspiration, on the sudden spur of the moment, climbs or descends into their veins out of nothing, or from a source that is not visible, hidden from plain sight, flooding into their creative impulse from a tectonic realm submerged in darkness. This gave rise to the curious yet valid belief in the sublime and the divine, that the inspiration descends straightforward from the gods, or from a hidden, transcendental realm, and buds fiery in the imagination and flesh of the artist, in her soul. Inspiration is an other worldly inspiration, a mystic intuition into a realm constantly trying to communicate with us and through us, and one we can only understand by yielding to it and becoming its tool and fountainhead.
And so attacking the divine and the sublime, pointing to their scientific untruth and logical invalidity is utter blasphemy for the artist for the sole reason — and what more important reason can there be? — that it deprives them from their sustenance and air; that, by laying a knife on that which for them is holy, they are cut off from their passion and worldview, deprived from their muse and their creativity. This is their truth and they hold on to it more dearly than their dear life. And who can dispute such a truth! Who, before it, is not inclined to bow in respect and awe? Cut the artists off and they linger, dead yet a live, and many an artist — if true to her art — chooses death over this degraded state of living. Ah, blessed be those humans who can be genuine to their bones! Blessed be those for whom sustenance is more than daily bread and water, more than a mere indulgence in immediate pleasures!
I approach the question of the creative impulse in artists with the utmost respect and appreciation for them who, after all, taught mankind the alphabet of the passions, making possible that most sublime passion of all, the passion of love. What can we ever give back in gratitude if not becoming better lovers and humans ourselves, better artists and more sublime embodiments of life.
So, with the above in mind, I dare and pose the question and attempt an answer: I posit that the artist, at one point or another in her life, felt an insurmountable urgency to synthetize and fuse all her impulses under one will and banner, that the artist became a tyrant and tyrannized herself and willed herself into a creation. This urgency struck the artist over a prolonged period of time and overwhelmed her with a strength even greater than life and death. The artist stood before herself and said, ‘upon this creation, which must come through me, hangs my life and death; either I pour myself into this creation or I perish and die.’ No one but the artist and Dionysian lover will truly grasp and appreciate the vehemence of this drive.
The artist succeeded and stood all proud before her creation. ‘But maybe it was really chance that had its way with me; to become a true believer, I must do it again.’ So the artist, on the crust of her triumphant moment, said to herself, and went back with an even greater need to tyrannize her impulses into a greater and a more heightened moment and creation. Her lust was momentarily pacified but now it is renewed and it wants more. The pacification was the moment — and moment here is the lapse of time during which the creative act lasts — the impulses yielded and gave birth and were thus relieved of their tension. Like a muscle grows through training and flexing the impulses grew and are demanding more and better nutrition; they thickened into roots suckling more and more of the artist’s life-source.
A step further and the impulses under the guidance of the artist’s will become this tree that is identical with her life. There is no moment that passes in the outer and inner worlds and which this tree does not collect as honeydew into the boiling pot of the artist’s creative passion. This has now become sublimated and unconscious in the artist; whether asleep or waking it has become her raison d’être, always at work, in the darkness and in the light. At any moment now and without warning the pot may overflow, seemingly from a hidden and secret source. At any moment creation might come and strike the flesh of the artist from within like a bolt of lightning.
The artist trained her impulses, and the beast will run away with her, even into the dark pits of hell.