Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Getting To Know Our Inner Artist

Artists are people who refuse to accept their experience as the last word. Is that all there is? seems to be the implicit critique.  They (the artist tribe) tend to rebel against what life routinely throws our way.  The artist soul longs for transcendence, and wants to create something new.


Thanks to Freud for writing about the discontents that come from the ‘civilized’ mode of life we have evolved.   The hard part of becoming civilized is having to repress actions and emotions that don’t conform to the dominant culture. As a result, among us are persons prone to explosions of genius or explosions of criminality. Civilized life is a crap shoot.  Besides the ills we impose on each other, we have to deal with blind fate and brutal coincidence, all the mishaps of nature and society—poverty, disease, death, and the unknown.


I could reel off examples of the two types of explosion.  Better to ask:  How do  we steer toward the creative response instead of hurtle toward apocalypse? I believe we should follow the Muses in our response to the new lethal  normal.   The Muses include all the arts, which to my mind are all about the dance of the soul with nature.  And that’s what we need to learn: how to dance with nature, not rape and disembowel her.


What does it mean to be an artist? Once we realize the miraculous nature of our consciousness, one thing should be clear: we are all, whether we think so or not, artists.   Much (if not most) of our conscious life tends to be passive and mechanical.  Our habits and our practical assumptions take hold of us.  But we can break free. We can cancel he trance of our everyday mindlessness.  The fact is that we can actively reshape our consciousness and willfully transform our experience. 


Our consciousness is a mystery to science, but for us it is a platform for dreaming, for the real magic of the paranormal, and for imagination and ecstasy.


This mysterious artist within also attends to daily life, deciding, communicating, working in a material world.  She, I’ll call her, creates the way we experience the world.  Our lives are the ultimate work of art that we never stop editing and revising.   


Like an artist testing the language of a poem or a story, or the forms and colors of a painting, or the edibles and décor of a holiday meal, or the way we treat and speak to friends and loved ones, or strangers.  Everything we do and imagine—indeed, every moment of our lives—is an opportunity to create something new, meaningful, beautiful.


We are artists in the humble activities of everyday life, the way we dress, comb our hair, feed ourselves; arrange our living quarters; interact with other people, animals,  et alia; wonder about the dreams and strange encounters, cope with the myriad demons in our heads, and so on and so forth.  Doing all that, having to make and mold a life—isn’t that a form of high art?  


Now and then, we should ask ourselves whether our inner artist is behaving like a friend and ally or like a saboteur that wants to undermine us.   The good artist is our deep consciousness, call it soul, the secret shape-shifter of our experience.  Sometimes it works with us; other times, against.  The trick is to tune into the creative side of our consciousness.  There are lots of interesting ways to do this, a topic for another day. Now, my point is this: we are free to form our own experience; the alternative is to leave the forming of ourselves to others.    







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