Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Art of Life

You are painting. Your images are everywhere in the room - on the walls, floor, and canvas. You are working slowly now, but you remember making some of them in a feverish burst. The room has your smell. You feel like there is someone watching you work. You don't know how you got here or why but you feel the need to create. You want to make something beautiful right now, and sometimes you want to make other things. You remember watching others paint, in a room with familiar smells. They are gone now and you don't know where they were or where they are. Maybe you painted over their work. You can remember looking at it and making a stroke. You remember a sense of loss and of excitement. That feeling comes out in the expression on the face of the child as your fingers dance on the canvas. As you draw her eyes you feel that she is watching you. You remember opening your eyes and looking up. There was color everywhere. You are in the moment of your work.

For all of the rules that we make and for all of our ego and self-importance, we will never know anything. When we are bored, this makes us feel particularly lonely and we make up stories to keep ourselves company. Time changes the meaning of stories, and like children we are easily distracted.

The very simple truth is that we are inspired by the things we see around us, and we in turn re-form what is around us by our reactions to this inspiration. Our reformations in turn inspire those that come next. In a cosmic sense life is art. In our human gallery there are dark periods and light ones, and some bright threads that connect them all. From the the first spark of life until the end of the universe, it is one great mosaic of continuous performances. Perhaps it is not meaningful, but it is our exhibition and you are part of it. Part of why we long for God is the great desire for someone to appreciate this, our collective masterpiece.

9 comments:

Random Magus said...

So what happens when in your head you are a totally different person and somehow you can never finds words or anything else to translate that?
What if you could never ever be the person you are in your dreams in your head - a great artist, a great pianist, a great writer.
What do you do when your reality is so different from your dreams.
How do you then invite people to share the you that exists only in your own head?

Adam said...

The art that is life is not about what we call 'art' - music, literature, etc. Your life itself is the art. The way you live it and the way you influence your environment and those around you by action and thought. Even if you had the most terrible adversity and were never able to overcome it, it is the way you approach the adversity that affects and inspires others, and that is the legacy you leave on our tapestry.

Random Magus said...

I get that - but sometimes its so difficult to escape from your own idea of who you are that it cripples you. You can't do anything because nothing you do will be good enough for yourself... because in your perceptions that will never be extraordinary. So you don't do anything at all
I don't know if I'm making any sense...

Adam said...

Random, I know exactly what you are communicating. I have a very different perspective on life though. I'm sure you are familiar to the analogy of "playing the hand you are dealt". There is no denying that some people have advantages that others do not. There is no way to change or overcome fundamental disadvantages, so this is not what you should be focusing on.

Instead, focus on what will make your life better. What will make you feel more comfortable, and more relaxed. Back to the poker analogy, if you know you are going to lose the hand then don't worry about winning. Enjoy the company of the other players, and enjoy the game. There will be other hands.

Life is nothing but a journey. Acheivements are largely an illusion brought on by our social and competitive nature. When you are 80 and looking back on your life, it will not be important to you whether you were professionally successful. What will be important is how you affected the people around you and the people that you love.

sevenwarlocks said...

I quite like this description of life as a creative endeavor, even as art. I think that for you, it is. I think it can be for anyone who makes an effort, as Thoreau put it, "to live deliberately." Sometimes, something goes wrong for me, and I lose the ability to create the art of life. When that happens, I endeavor instead to create the art of art.

Sometimes, the two are not that different to me. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I do believe I enter states of controlled madness. There are voices that speak to me and voices that speak through me. There is a portal that opens into formless oblivion. I reach in, grab a piece, pull it back through, and craft into something that other can understand. You can share your life with others, and influence others with your life. You can share your art with others, and influence others with your art. Both are creative endeavors - once there was nothing, and now there is something.

Wallace Stevens examines some of these ideas in his great poem "The Man with The Blue Guitar."

One of my favorite lines:

"The thinking of art seems final / when the thinking of God is smoky dew."

When I find I can create art, I can then turn back to life, and find I can create that again as well.

Gregory A. Becerra said...

A chill runs through me whenever someone starts talking about art. Like shellshock. So many people try to make it into something grandiose. What most people think about is GOOD art, and they forget that art can really really suck and most often does.

Too many times we get stuck in the metaphors and lose our connection with what is real to us. This inside of our heads should be used to plan our lives, not as a domicile for an alter ego. Everyone, including me, has an opinion on what we should be doing and that messes with us.

Art is getting our thoughts out so other people can come in contact with them. Not metaphorically but actually. Like go touch a statue or look at an oil painting or read a blog. For a healthy life the majority of the flotsam should be flowing out of our heads not in.

If there is a big disconnect about who you are in your head and your physical being. Just let go of the thoughts and be who you are now. You could think of it like Thoreau or from an opposite perspective like Chuang Zhu. But both are connected with the physical world.

RB said...

Giving we are all reading the same article 'the art of life' and here we see how people interprete and display their dissimilar thoughts. It's always fascinating to me to see how the different distance, angles and the connections can create such different art. We actually live in it, don't we?

Awkward Opus said...

"I don't believe in God, but I miss him."
~Somebody else said that.

Arnold said...

Salman Rushdie once said "I have spent a lot of my life looking positively at the consequences of migration. Now I'm being forced to see that there's a nightmare as well as a dream."

In light of Terrorism the United States and the wqorld is wakling up to the challenge on how to balance our need for immigration for our economic future v our need for physical security.