LIBIDO AND THE ARTIST
Artists are reputed to be iconoclastic folk, a little odd in their ways. Their bodies and minds open to the essence of life. Even if the art-making means finely tuning the intellect sans feeling. But instrument of mind is best when open to viscerally, emotionally and intellectually resonating with an observed object, instead of narrowly intellectual encounter. The best of artists give birth to expressions of mind and soul that can profoundly affect our perception. Many say an artist reflects what is, and the viewers then see themselves in the reflection. The artist then shifts point of view, projects the image from a different vantage– and viewers have an epiphany as we alter our angle as well.
Artists open doors to our imaginations, lead us to a world beyond by finding just the right color, wording, limb in motion, gesture caught in time, or making a form timeless on an exquisite surface or in space. Picasso said the audience of an artwork adds the third act of creation. (The first and second act belong to the artist’s vision and depiction.) Our belly softens or tightens, hearts lift, throats swell, silence closes in as external noise drops away. We know the artist has discovered something ineffable and has guided our attention to it and we recognize the wonder.
Words may not translate it but deep in our souls the truth of the experience is there. The best nod of respect is to leave saying: I don’t quite get it (or I do). The discovery of something new resonates deep within me. I know what it is but I do not have all the words to explain it. Another kind of epiphany may be: Of course, I knew that all the time but never knew I knew it. I had never thought to express it that way. It is so clear!
I had this experience when visiting the Rothko Museum in Houston, Texas. Mark Rothko’s large paintings hang on the wall of a circular room. The room is dimly lit and there are benches so that you can sit for a long time gazing at rectangular works composed only of what looks like a single, simple color. At first, the idea seemed ridiculous. But when I relaxed, I was drawn into dwelling. I was not looking at Rothko’s color so much as listening to it. The color came alive– not moving but seemingly breathing. Three layered colors or variations in the one color evoked an harmonic. It was a mystical experience that lives on in my mind and my body to this day. I will not try to describe further. This artist found something beyond everyday perception and I was privileged to glimpse it. It changed me.
There is also art that is not so ineffable but just as praiseworthy for its insight and execution. The fine artist and the working professional, while doing the same work, belong to different leagues. The master has cultivated the ability to travel through deep worlds and come back to consciousness. Their counterparts in the commercial art world are not paid to plumb deeply into their minds, nor are they so disposed. Both, however, listen deeply to their worlds of mind that nest within each other.
No matter what realm an artist inhabits, the mind needs to be disciplined to keep focus as layers of conditioned thought peel away. All artists seek to discern truth undistorted by personal feelings or habits; firstly, like a good journalist who discards unquestioned points of view, and then like an impeccable warrior willing to leap into the uncharted imagination.
The labyrinth of the imaginal world is not a thinking place. It is autonomous. Brain is silent. It does not meddle. Now the artist is free to see. The wise one properly applies meditation and approaches mind with reverence.
Next time, I want to introduce you to the four levels of consciousness. Here’s a sneak preview: Waking Consciousness, Dreaming Consciousness, Deep Sleep, The Beyond.
I also want to tell you about the Bards of Druidic Culture whose lineage goes back to the Stone Age. They carry the dreams of ancestors in their epic poetry and channel advice to kings and queens in early Europe. And yes, this all connects to the experience of our own time; its paradox, its violence, its reach for the stars and beyond.
Happy Holidays, everyone! May your new year be bountiful in inspiration and creative pursuit!
My next post will be on January 2, 2017!
Your loving friend, Peggy