the end of hope

Addendum to The End of Hope...

Addendum to The End of Hope...

Upon reading the End of Hope series I realized I had not yet really dealt with the question of “What is the hope of art?” Where is are really taking us? Without judgements at this point I simply want to reflect on what people say.

Some say art is almost “free therapy” for the artist. In other words, it is the artist’s diary, a place to work out “issues” going on inside them. Whether these will translate accurately to others (or should) is a great question.

Others say the artist is “on the hook” so to speak as a public figure. Being an “artist” does not excuse them from responsibility. They can not simply do whatever they want in the name of artistic impulse. Art creates responses and has effect.

Still there is a third category that somewhere in the tension say art is a very personal thing for the artist but, as a public artist, there is a need to say something coherently to the the public. Somehow the artist must translate meaning.

That really must be done in the “live performance” of the piece. No matter how great a project is it is nothing until consumable by the public. It has to be shown, played, somehow experienced. The work must be brought to live.

In classical music for instance the whole concert is there on the pages. It never really goes away. But not until there is an orchestra worthy of playing the music on those pages does it really become a reality, a tangible experience.

With recorded music it is unique because when the recording is played it is considered a public performance. The music is experience-able in a very directed environment. The public legitimately and in very personal space can listen to the music.

For some reason the recorded music drives us to want to hear a “live” or shared experience of the music. It is a chance for us to experience the music with others in public space. Here music transforms into something more than a recording.

The public experience of music is really where its power and momentum can be felt. If done well people can truly be transformed, empowered, informed, motivated. They can experience the music and what inspired the music for themselves.

There is no way around the power of large groups of people singing together. Even in today’s ultra-party culture something sacred still happens. There is an enormous power released. For many people it is the only time they experience shared singing.

Of course there are so many things that go into making such an experience possible, not least of which is having some sort of visual aesthetic (be indoor with lights or outdoors with natural beauty). That also contributes to this sensation.

In the end the public performance of art is its intended purpose. It is and always has been a public experience. From the astute art galleries of the world to the outdoor music festivals art is a fundamental human experience meant to be enjoyed together!  

The End of Hope (Part 7)

The End of Hope (part 7)

The final word is that there is no final word. The artist always attempts to create “the holy spectral shiver” in his work, something told or made so well as to carry the capacity to actually transform upon experience. Literally.

Many will offer here class sort of debates that art never makes its way to lower classes who have not been trained to make it a priority (or who do not that the time to learn). That is the true power of the greatest art, however. The greatest makes its way through the classes. It lures even the coldest, pragmatic cynic. The kid from nowhere who simply finds something about it irresistible. He will not have the language to explain it, but he will KNOW it.

Most artists have had themselves this sort of transformative experience. Only after receiving such a mind-altering thrill can one truly be inspired to create it. Our ability to receive great art (of all kinds) is directly proportionate to our ability to make it.

So inspiration must be a 2-way communication. We must always be open to the move of the Muse. She will draw us in to something that seems so far removed from anything we are doing. She draws out an insight we didn’t know we were looking for. Then days or weeks later that insight or line makes its way perfectly into a song or art project. Incredible fit. Unbelievable. So good it actually brings into question who is actually writing this thing: she or us? Is she actually the author?

Perhaps we are co-writers, but it seems clear the deeper we get into the process that she is definitely the executive and we the associate. Of course we must have discipline and put the pen to paper but she keeps it from being only mundane business. She gives the whole writing process its meaning. She keeps us coming back time and again to the core, to the essence. She reminds us what words on paper can become. She lifts us out of our limitations to see the transcendent healing power of our work.

And we mustn't forgot it is her who gives us the call in the first place. Think of it. Why did we get involved in the arts so many years ago anyway? Why were so particularly drawn to certain forms and ways of expression? Do we create our tastes or discover them? The reality is that we, along with our teachers and families, etc discovered a deep-rooted passion for our art form. It was already there, responding with great fervor when first given the chance.

It may not have been love at first sight but there definitely was some sort of strong personal connection. Something about the thing kept us coming back again and again. The lord of inspiration was tantalizing us with her beauty.

When we said yes we were rewarded, vindicated with a certain confidence we had in no other arena of life. There, in the midst of our destined art form, we became something new, something powerful, something capable of creation. We found our voice! 

The End of Hope (Part 4)

The End of Hope (part 4)

For most creative people the answer to that question (see The End of Hope Part 3) is governed by your imagination and gifts. Woven into your fabric is sort of a pesky dream, a lofty one seemingly out of the realm of possibility or reason (thus secluded to the imagination). Most mistakenly assume that's a place of “make-believe.” On the contrary the imagination is the home of reality before its public debut. The imagination alone is the human faculty capable of vision, seeing outside of what currently is.

Our gifts also help focus this intent dreaming. Although we did not ask for our gifts they are there, and they are demanding. However dormant certain ones may lie, the imagination has a way of rekindling them, utilizing them without our permission.

It’s almost as if the imagination has free access to mobilize our gifts when we are asleep. They conspire together to #StartAWar in us, to shake us out of our dormant comfort and securities, to mess with us - in the best way possible.

The gifts in us will not always make sense. Some will seem completely disconnected from the others. We will think we have figured out everything there is to know about a certain one, but then another develops and the context is completely changed.

Our gifts do not always match. An intense love of rock music with intense curiosity about entrepreneurism, for instance. Many would look at the two things and say either “pick one” or “those two things are interesting but unconnected."

The good news is our job isn’t necessarily to connect them. We do not force some strange intersections (in this example “how to ‘start up’ your band project”). We simply pursue each interest area to see where it may lead us.

It will not always be a sensible place with a clearly defined path. It shouldn’t be. If we are intently listening to our gifts it will lead to some strange new territory. And the divergent paths may not connect nicely to one another.

*That’s where life itself sort of picks up the difference. At times we will get consumed in discovering and almost “producing” our gifts for the world. It is work in the best sense of the term. But, it is still work. Work without rest is exhausting.

There will be rest! And play! These things done in community give life the layers that creative people need in order to sustain “gift production.” We willingly exhaust ourselves for our self-defined goals and initiatives.

That is not the point. The point is the sustained cultivation of a creative life. We don’t want to be one and done. We don’t want to be one-hit wonders. We also don’t want to be meat-grinder artists who for commercial exploitation are put through the ringer.

That leaves life in all its beautiful mystery. The exploration of beauty, friendship, community, God, love, support, truly caring for and encouraging one another. This is and has been the only key to sustaining creativity since the dawn of time, literally!