Process of Becoming (Part 2)

This is where will and inspiration intersect. Traditional metaphysics said that man was body, soul, and spirit, and the soul was the mind, will, and emotions. I like that breakdown of the soul, especially as it pertains to the artist’s dilemma.

The mind can only take a creative person so far when it comes to developing new work. The mind (reason) will certainly guide the process and seek meaning from it, but it is almost useless in starting the process. Will and emotions are much more useful. Some have said “write the first draft with your heart, and the second draft with your head.” It is a similar idea. Starting a project (arguably the hardest part) must be done almost out of pure emotion. Reason cannot motivate to the degree required to launch. The will, which sounds sacrificial and determined, is really about deciding to type. There is discipline involved certainly (getting the needed supplies, choosing a time and place, etc.), but the will’s part is simple. Get everything ready.

Once the hands start writing, or drawing, or arranging, etc, the will’s job ends and something takes over. What is it that takes over? Could it be called emotion, or perhaps spirit is more accurate, drawing on our emotions? Many have experienced a sort of “third hand” writing, drawing, arranging for them. Of course it is still their hands and willingness to hold the pencil, etc, but some sort of creative spirit takes over. Something beyond us seems to take over.

To some this will sound like mystical bogus, but those who have experienced the joy and freedom of this sort of inspired creative work know there is something to it. We are the tool of a Muse beyond ourselves. Something is writing through us. And yet we are still guiding the pencil. What the Muse writes through us is unique to us. In other words, though the influence of inspiration may be beyond us, it is still unique to us. That is one of the most powerful lessons there may be for the artist.

He or she is uniquely connected to the Muse. There is an impenetrable relationship; one that no one else may enter, between the two. The actual words and melody are the real miracle (for the songwriter), the packaging later is added bonus.

That initial idea, concept, notion, etc. is a gift given only to one. But obviously that one is specifically placed in a given context (time and place). There is no separating altogether that person from their context, which again is unique to them.

So the artist has two essential relationships that are equally valid and true: his relationship with the Muse and his relationship with his context. Both are completely unique to him, in terms especially of the blend their tension creates. This may be equation of art = inspiration + context. Inspiration is very timeless and eternal, whereas context is extremely rooted and identifiable. There is and must be a tension between the two. They are valid ends of an important tension.

Initially there is no doubt that the context will limit. It squeezes certain ideas. It does not necessarily censor those ideas as much as inform them. Even those new genre trailblazers are still acting (in part) in reaction to what currently is. Some “pure” artists will insist here that art can not be informed by anything other than the depths of personal creativity. The individual suffering enough will inescapably find sacred inspiration. The artist is sort of pitted in complete isolation against the world.

But the artist is a gift to the world, though certainly the world will not always understand and appreciate that gift. Think of the masterpieces over the centuries that were commissioned pieces. Those pieces started as somebody else’s vision. Or at least the basic vision fit into the passion and focus area of the artist. There were deadlines. Proofing. All the things that seem to smack against pure inspiration. And yet the end result was spectacular. Art can be a collaborative process. Some artists will squirm in their seat just hearing that. “Never. Art must be purely the result of one suffering soul willing to face the existential crisis alone and with courage.” Actually quite true. But he does so not necessarily in isolation of other souls.

In other words, the collaborative nature of art is the willing act of facing our existence together. Each person in the group is required in their own way to the same process. But we can go through the process together. We can be in community. The community cannot write for us. But it can encourage and inspire us to write. After all, it is the community for whom this art is ultimately for. Art can not be realized in isolation, though it is created there. It can only be realized by the community.

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