Sunday, March 25, 2007

Art As Still Life

So it's been awhile what with the illness factor and traveling to Austin, TX this past week. We had a killer time at Gateway Church and now have a ton of info to digest and regurgitate into reality. (Nice image, I know.)


We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.
- Pablo Picasso

I wish I had some profound thoughts to share but I don't know how profound they really are. Plus I started writing a book so that might could interfere with my blogger action. I hope to be one of the next great classic novelists of the century. Hey - what with the drivel of this current century I might stand a chance that I didn't stand in the past couple centuries what with Hemingway, Austen, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Pearl S. Buck, L'Engle, Potok, Twain, London, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Tolkien, etc. This century since '00 turned over? Well, it's good for me that so many people would rather blog than do the mind-numbing work of writing classic literature. It's also good that people would rather make money. Did you know that Pearl Buck won a Nobel Prize for literature for her work? She also had eight children but still made the time to write. What's my lame excuse now? Two children? hmmm... Don't we all love our excuses for our undisciplined lives -- as if circumstances are really to blame and not our selves! "It is one thing to praise discipline, and another to submit to it." - Miguel de Cervantes

Artists invest years into their work. An artist (musician) relayed that in a recent conversation.
I said, yeah people don't realize the hours that go into it.
He said, No, not hours. YEARS. Years spent in some room where no one sees you practicing Dorian Scales [and pieces of music]...

That word, YEARS really struck me. It also struck me that so many of us want to be heard and to be famous without investing those years into our work. The truth is our work is childish scrawling until we reach a point where we have gained mastery over our medium. There is no way to gain mastery where there is no disciplined work. This is a truth that I've danced around for years, fearing failure; not seeing that most of the work up until the point of mastery will be "failure" but it must be done in order to gain mastery. In that sense it is not failure at all. It is the practice work of a growing artist. Making that investment is another thing altogether. It's easy for me to invest an hour to blog but not so easy to invest two hours to write something that I will end up hating and wrestling with during those two hours and then feeling like I wasted the time because my insecurities were not being catered to. There is a lonely side to discipline that one has to be OK with. The disciplined space is largely devoid of the instant gratification that we have deceived ourselves into believing is a real way to succeed in life. Instant gratification is best left to drive-through windows and instant messaging, not to our life's work or to Art.

Authenticity is the other side of classic art in any form. An artist who is inauthentic produces work that is contrived, commercial, titillating, or pedantic. If a person only wants to be financially successful then they will use their talents to produce work that sells whether it rings true or not. That's OK until they try to label it as art. Art has layers and depth. Look at Picasso's Guitar Player. The truth of Picasso's own melancholy is right there brushed onto that canvas. (During that time period Picasso lost a friend to suicide.)

The artist who has truth to tell has to do the work of living it out in real life. A true artist must be accountable to his work. The artist must be able to speak for what he has produced. I have not been able to do that until the past six months. That's when the dichotomy between outer shell and inner nucleus grew too great to bear. The loneliness of carrying ugly self-truths and the burden of deception were creating a commercialized being. I just didn't have the energy to maintain that persona and to continue worrying about whether or not I was going to be "found out" for who I really was and to be found wanting. Not that I hide monstrous truths that are much different from anyone else's. In the end not being known and not giving others the chance to accept me wasn't worth it. Toward that end the adage, "to thine own self be true" makes sense. If we were true we wouldn't waste the time we do on idle pursuits and chatter; we would be purposeful beings. We would live and speak truth and be accountable to it.

That would be some Art worth looking at.