18 January 2008

Art Sashays In

It's The Topic today in my life.

Several streams of my life are roiling. On the outside I'm sluggish and over-smoking. On the inside, old questions and issues have cycled back into prominence.

I welcome their return...this is the work of my Soul.
I curse their return...for I have no "answers."
I am whining...because it really hurts.
I am exhausted...because they have returned with redoubled intensity.
I am humbled...what a vote of confidence; God thinks I have what it takes to face this stuff.

A friend is thinking of me today and sends this email:

"As an artist, you must be a prophet, not in the sense that you foretell
things to come, but in the sense that you tell your audience, at the risk of
their displeasure, the secrets of their own hearts. The reason why they need
an artist is that no community altogether knowns its own heart, and by
failing in this knowledge, a community deceives itself on the one subject
concerning which ignorance is death. For the evils which come from
ignorance, you as artist prophet suggest no remedy. Your remedy is the art
itself, the poetry itself, the dance itself, the song itself. Art is the
community's medicine for the worst disease of the mind, the corruption of

-- Book of the Principles of Art by Robin G. Collingwood, 1938
I like finding this message in my box tonight. At lunch, tears of frustration flowing down my cheeks in response to my companion's question "What do you want to do?" I said, "All I want to do is make music. The highest deep, the most profound uplift I've ever experienced has come always from music. It's the only hard work that this lazy woman is ever motivated to do."

There's always enough space, light, encouragement, challenge, humor, stimulation, peace, reward, education, romance, juice and shadow when I make music. No identity crisis when I'm at the keyboard. No confusion about etiquette or discretion at the piano. No boredom.

The path at my feet....the keys at hand.


  1. I was thinking this afternoon about how you call yourself lazy, and here again in this post. It's jarring to me sometimes how you describe yourself, so unrelated to how I see you. It takes work, strength and enormous energy to grind against the machine of the ordinary. Many people, who by "ordinary" standards would not be described as lazy, appear that way to me. Even in spite of the long hours they put in.

  2. Lazy = I prefer playing to working.
    Lazy = There are days when I do no work but very rarely a day when I don't find/make time to play.
    Lazy = you put me on one side of a scale, and the amount of goods--durable or intangible--I've produced in my lifetime on the other side...guarantee I'm the heavier side of the scale....

  3. Ha! I second j.eek!- "work" vs "play"..... I've known you to do Self work many wouldn't go near...

  4. Swedenborg's theory of "uses" says that we all have, somewhere in us, knowledge of our true god-given, god-driven use- and we recognize it when we're in the state you describe with making music. I guess it's akin to J Campbell's "follow yr bliss". In my own life, I've found that immersion in that state- what I'd call resonance, resonance with ideas, actions, Makings- also opens new opportunities, growings, more of the same- which is, truly, bliss. At least MOST of the time.
    I've also been thinking about the artist quote- although I've been a working artist most of my life, I've never thought I was a prophet or mirror of community or anything else.... I DO think art its self, the making- the process- its self, is a mirror, a prophecy ? No, a revelation- for the Maker. One of my uses in the Swedenborgian sense has long been sharing the processes of art-making- facilitating freedom of expression along with practical knowledge of materials and techniques. And THAT, to me, is the profound revelatory process that opens our eyes to our own hearts.
    In fact, although I & others have many of the artifacts I've produced, the pieces themselves have always been secondary to the Making for me.... while I was involved in theater, I rarely went to shows I'd built after they opened; for me the thrill is gone by then.
    For YOU, it seems, clearly, to be Music.... so let it fly, let it flow, let yr Voice soar through yr fingers- help us all lift up with the joyful noise!

  5. I’ve been feeling the collection of sorrow, despair, felt dis-pleasure, dis-belonging in so many of yr posts… reflecting on my own years of despair, habitual hiding myself, masking, trying/desperately wanting to please others… always hoping it’d somehow get me some LOVE, some acceptance, even while knowing it couldn’t be authentic by virtue of the fact that I was hiding…. And the clear implied assumption that whatever else I was, I wasn’t enough.... and by direct association, my dreams not enough, personal pleasures either hideously inappropriate or, well, lacking… just not good enough. Suicidal imaginings came up often in response to my desperation to get away, away from the pain & disappointment & awful, awful loneliness. In sum, a grotesquely ironic, torturous knot. Maybe I’m reflecting more of my own history back at you than yr actual feelings warrant…. What I read of SITC, or interpret, strikes me as deeply familiar.
    The image of you sitting over lunch with a colleague, weeping styr response to her question…. What DO you want to do?… resonates compassion, my own sorrow for you in that scene – what could strike such a deeply sorrowful chord in you but the fact that you aren’t doing what you want to do- whatever that is, however silly it might seem? Or that you just think you don’t know what you want to do- or think that, for whatever reason, you can’t do? At least, in my own experience, those’re the questions that have come up in retrospect, reviewing the unspoken assumptions implicit in my emotional experience….standing on different ground now, the core assumptions of that awful response- response of my being to the dreadful dysthymic daily emotional experience- are a lot clearer, and I’m more able- sometimes- to notice that habit of thought/feeling when it rises up; even the noticing, then going on, helps relieve it now.
    Sometime about one hundred years ago I read something that’s stuck with me through these years- may be a famous philosopher who said it, I just don’t remember- but the idea was: The box. Stuck in the box, we know the shape, the dimensions, the texture of the surfaces, the quality of the stifling air in the box; we wonder at its origins, its purpose, its various relationships to our being….. and ALL of that’s irrelevant: the only meaningful question is how do we get out of the box?

  6. greenlit_nightowlSat Feb 02, 05:08:00 PM

    Wow Alex, Wow Pam, thanks, you said what goes on in my head, guess i"m not the only one. But I couldn't say it....so, thanks.


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