Getting to the Core of Creativity (Part 2)

So, we’ve established that in order for art to experience its own destiny it must in some way be experienced by others. Over the centuries artists have been revered, celebrated, jeered, abused, thrown before kings with only one chance. One thinks of David, the young harp player, sought by the first king of Israel Saul. Saul’s increasing paranoia (a trait very persistent with leaders) led him to require music therapy. After being rejected as Israel’s king Saul was tormented by a spirit. One of his servants suggested someone play the lyre for him during these spells. Ironically he summoned David, the already secretly anointed next king. David played and eased Saul’s suffering. His torment was relieved through music.

This is a great ancient example of both the power of music and its unique connection with the service of kings and leaders. For centuries the artists worked for the kings. Some of the greatest art in history was commissioned by kings. So creativity had, in these instances, a definitive goal and end. Even that, for some with a rather bohemian approach to art, would be supplanting the creative core. Now of course within the basic goal the artist had complete freedom.

The Pope did not micro-manage Michelangelo as he painstakingly worked on the Sistine Chapel. He gave him the basic job and let him do what he did best. Having an end was neither necessarily convoluting nor creatively hampering. In fact, some of the most talented artists in the world lack drive, or at least lack focus when it comes to producing works. Some would like the challenge of being commissioned to certain tasks. Some would appreciate the structure. Some would inevitably feel like a production line, fast-fooding their processes in order to keep up with demands. For them it would be an aberration of intent, but only because pressure works differently for different people. Some thrive, some wither.

How does an artist find challenge outside of himself? Does he need it? OR is art on its own terms challenging enough? Or have artists simply thought too much of themselves and their “process” to mistake how quite simple it is to produce? One suspicion is that art actually is very similar to many other creative pursuits. It does not need isolation and some sort of divine inspiration. It requires regular feeding, a regiment of ongoing feedback, and some commitment to to produce.

If we were, for example, to get serious about patronizing the arts, how would we structure our support? In other words, would it be cart blanc, “go ahead and do whatever you want when you feel inspired and we’ll bankroll the process? OR, would it build in some sort of schedule of production and process? Would there be an obvious assumption that at the end projects will get completed and they will be to a certain level of excellence? Of course. We can expect more of artists!

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