By nature, a sentient creature requires the means to pass on that information which he receives, much in the way a lake requires an inlet and an outlet lest it becomes stagnant. Naturally, that which stagnates becomes toxic. A sentient with no outlet becomes a candidate for insomnia, a crucible for the ulcer, a garden for cancers, perhaps even an instrument of violent psychosis.
We have found, by necessity, countless ways to express ourselves, not all of them artistic, of course, at least not by strict definition. But as we are the recipients of far more informational ‘inflow’ than any of our sentient predecessors, we are forced to more efficiently process this glut, or fall into decay, or burst completely at the seams. Whether through work or play, through art or sport, crime or ballet, a hug, a kiss, a slap in the face — we must let it out, or it will kill us.
According to the Standards of Culture, expression within the format of the Arts is (hopefully) with the greatest eloquence. It is expression demanding mastery, discipline, and usually years of perseverance, not only to ‘get it right’ (or at least to get it close), but to receive affirmation for one’s efforts. Moreover, whether he dance on a stage, chisel in stone, or fiddle with a bow, the artist is at once subject to current standards, while at the same time pressed to transcend said standards, to penetrate a bubble, so to speak, without breaking it. It can be tricky business.
The foray into the battleground of creation [a path swathed using a spectrum of styles — realism, fantastic realism, primitive naive, abstraction, and finally full circle to The Middle Path — a distillation of all of them] has been spellbinding, and at the same time, deeply unsettling for this artist. To express those aspects of oneself that cannot be uttered in words, holds a certain titillation, a primaeval excitement, perhaps akin to that felt by “he who first rendered” the wounded bull elk, or stick woman giving birth on the wall of his ancient cave. Oh, the magic beyond words.
Let it be noted, that “he who first rendered” gradually endowed his stick woman with flesh and color. As a citizen of the Tigris and Euphrates empires, he began to add highlights to his human forms. As a Byzantine, he toyed with the illusion of dimensionality, and finally, as an Italian of Renaissance Florence and Rome, he captured his most exquisite representations ever, epitomizing grace, full dimension, and the ultimate balance of colour and composition.
Having mounted this pinnacle, he sought new ways to express himself. He began to understand his art as a language, and he began a long, beautiful conversation. For a time, he called himself Rembrandt, the first to shamelessly denude the strokes of his brush. And he was answered by the Impressionists, who were in turn answered by the Nativists, and they by the Cubists, then the Surrealists, the Abstract Expressionists, the Pops, the Photo Realists, the Minimalists, Bad, Blah, and on and on, until what do we have left? Rantings, perhaps?
Does it matter?
With the invention of the camera, purely figurative style is perhaps obsolete, (not to mention that Intellectualism has led us repeatedly to the brink of extinction). Art must inherently contain a balance of Intellect, Emotion and Intuition since those are the primary aspects of our awareness. After all, if Art is not about awareness, then it is about nothing. But forgive me if I refrain from hanging pebble-filled grocery bags from my penis, or decorate the corner of a room with perfect grunge. An artist is a conversationalist, a medium for his spirit, trading symbols with others who know the talk and the passions — the splendid passions — the joys, the sorrows, the angers, the griefs, the lusts, the terrors, the loves, all the loves, all the feelings (emotion) possible, captured beneath their surface (intuition) as mere colors, shapes, movement and light (intellect). It attempts to grab at the very roots of manifestation. To reach in through the veils of three-dimensional illusion and fondle the stuff in there, the universal soul, the as yet tangible energy of God-mind, whirling around in the awful ethers of creativity. It is a practice bordering on voodoo, wrought with danger, and at the same time, inimitable reward. It may caress the whisper of an angel, touch the fury of a deadly thought, recoil from the heat of a demon, examine the mysteries of things which cannot be understood, but which can, ironically, be appreciated, even if only subliminally. It is the heartbroken and the heart swollen by romance, brutally, crudely, deliciously translated into imagery. What peculiar song is this? What lingo? What invisible world brought to bear? Is it sacrilege to hang it on our walls? If so, what marvellously reckless living!
Art is the stuff behind the stuff. It exists in the realms between light and shadow, and at the same time, it is the core of our reality. It is the territory of magicians, the pathway of spiritual warriors. Yet how is it that we have arrived at this present moment? Was it really the spirit that drove us? Where are we going besides round and around the sun, and it around the cosmos? What are we really made of? What propels us? Is God separate, or is god All? What is it we’re supposed to know? How can we love to our fullest capacity? How can we achieve our ultimate potential? How can we best serve the Force that beat us? How may we serve our partners in the flesh, fellow soldiers who breathe the same threatened air? Why death? Why life? Must we even ask? Not necessarily.
Yet, we are sentients. We cannot help ourselves. Is it all about the experience? Are we the holographic fragments of a Supreme Being who must create Itself in order to know Itself? Or are we merely impostors hoping to be rewarded for our second-hand cleverness? This traveller cannot answer these things. He can only keep moving, and try to follow the tiny star that flickers so far above him, hoping it’s his true guidelight and not simply an aberrant reflection from his over-heated mind.
Either way, let him proceed with confidence and Faith; let him wave the flags of Joy, and march, as a stout and courageous dragon, through the bogs of the Information Age. Let him celebrate for the sake of sheer existence.