If, in the following note, I have used poetic language, it is because of the cascading radial beams I observe in the beauty around me. Please understand that I have attempted to capture the over-abundance of this life-force, and do not wish my meaning to be obscured by lofty ambitions of prettiness.
You are an Artist. This is why I speak to you. I am an artist. Note the distinction. Some may mock at your works – image, sound, building of words – but I do not intend to. I merely intend to send forth the clarion call of warning that echoes in my being – that echoes in the universe – and pass on the scent of danger that I have caught from your work.
Yes, your work — seeing as it is separate from you, I do not despair of you – nor of it, please note. There is only a pathway to Death – not Death itself (if you are reading this!). I do not even say that the work in itself is evil (not in this fashion) but only that – if taken wrongly – can cause death…like medicine, or water, or sunshine.
One final preface: I have addressed you as “Child” because that is my affection for you…as an anxious mother bending for her child, eager to see the young ones follow in her footsteps, but afraid that by misunderstanding her example – and her instruction – they shall be misled and end up far away.
(Not that I am your model, you understand – in art, in work, or in other areas — but I strive for the glories I wish for you, and so am your fellow-worker, a fellow-artist (not Artist), and consequently concerned (read: terrified and sick with longing) for my brothers, my sisters, my BFFs…my children.)
Oh, Art. How I sicken of it.
Now, now, Child – I myself “do art”. But Art is a sucking of vapid desire that cannot be met outside of Faithful and True.
Take music. I sing, dance, feel the rhythm of the melody echo in my membranes with the cry of the cords that animate creation. Think me immune to the swell? I feel, too. But I do not worship it, any more than I worship the sun. Any more than I worship the crackling, biting, rhythmic flow of power that courses through the machines as the lifeblood of the digital world.
I have seen them: the ones who take Music (as Art) and cling to it as though with the patterns of sound – waft and wave – they could unmake and remake the very cords of humanity. They mistake the beauty – the Art – for Who put it there…and that is Deadly.
You see, I do not say that these things cannot be sanctified, but to suppose them to be holy of their own nature is to confuse the flow with the source, to confuse this beauty and this pic-line to the soul with Holy Holy Holy (being His name).
Oh Fool of my fellowship, oh Child of my family-blood, how I long to gather you as a sheepdog gathers sheep – and will you flee?
And now, what is art?
Do you not know that all time and space, all matter and every point of being, even language and thought itself, is directed toward this: worship? What you worship: in that lies Everything.
Art. Beauty. Paint and stone and words words words, and notes in harmonious sequence. What do they make? Beauteous Child, do not clutch gravel thinking them stars. You know Eternity stares at you whenever you close your eyes. And to step forward to meet the Eternal One, or recoil backward out of His grasp, has been the whole aim of mankind.
We all have our ways. Whatever we make with these clarion calls to the soul of Man, it will not go unrecorded. (There are “books”, you know, for that purpose. Rev. 20:12) And here again, with worship in mind, we find imitation the simplest tool in our hands. What, surely you know how Story has been used before! Do I presume to create new worlds, or do I hope – with what I weave – to capture the vibrating cord of Creation that echoes backward and forward and in every particle of the universe the eternal call of worship to the source: Holy, Holy (thus His name).
So you see we all chant back but one refrain — all our speech has one end, to speak Faithful and True.
Reach for the Eternal One, and all Eternity shall be yours to explore, along the paths of radiant joy that pierce the outermost shadows.
What is Art?
A picture, a statue, a concept, a form, a beauty, an abiding, a pretty thing, a cry from the soul of Man.
No, no, some say. My Art is not this…not a stylized beauty, an Object, a thing of crude matter to cheat the haggard, clutching fingers of entropy. It is passing, like our lives. We stare in the face our own mortality.
This man does not build a statue…he builds an “event.” What are his tools? Steel, plastic, cloth, earth, people, words. Time and place. The hearts and souls of men. It is not art…it is interaction, relationship, human spirit, human energy, experience. He draws pictures, he spends money, thousands of lives are touched, someone takes a picture, and they call it Art.
“A matter of days,” he says. “A matter of days, and it’s gone. I take it down.” Flirting with his own unraveling, this event mimics the vaporization of his own humanity. “I did it!” he says. “I have created Art; I tore down my child with my own hands.” The Art is the idea, the memory, the fusion of human energies. “My name shall abide.”
They grasp for the immortal. They think an idea will not die. Granite crumbles, bronze ferments, wood and paper melt, but the words, the concepts, the memories of millions…how can they die, in the hearts and souls of men? It shall abide.
Folly. The thoughts of men evaporate before the morning dew is birthed. How can your name abide in the minds of men, the outcry of your soul in their hearts? It is but a shadow, a mist. The emotions, the thoughts, the dream will fade faster than the grass.
What is Art? Can it be a form, a thing, a holding-in-the-hand?
Some have sought everlastingness in this…a stone, a page, a piece of glass.
Imagine a youth. His master calls, and he comes, strips, and stands in position, waiting to be turned into stone. The master works, and then he cries, “I have made beauty. — I have signed my name on a page. — Now I shall abide.”
Men see the statue. They enjoy its form, and the work lives on. They cherish it and care for it, and it goes on into the centuries to follow.
What of the youth? His master finishes, he walks away, and his flesh dissolves into earth. And his master? Can he abide in a name, in a form? In his hand-children, even in his own mirror image? No…the worms eat his flesh.
“I have made beauty.” “I have made Art.” “I have made a concept, a vision, a dream, a human thing.”
Meaning. By which they reach for eternity. What abides? Meaning. Purpose soars into the ages beyond, while the aimless dissipates as the vapor that creates it.
Fie! I say, this crumbling snatch at the immortal. This grasping for the eternal, the timeless.
See. What do we see?
Tree…mathematical formula…star…cat…galaxy, physics, newborn’s hand…I don’t just see beauty. I see the beauty of God.
Give him your soul, and he will give you life. Clutch it to your breast, in greedy fear and hesitation, and you will die for all eternity.
What joy, what love, is mine!
What bubbling of life in my soul! What can I do – what will express this other-worldly life?
I find color in my hand. I reach out…what does it touch? No matter… I look at a tree. At first, I get a sketch. But soon, I get a form, a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, an image of beauty. Not reaching for time, for life, for myself…forming a mirror image of His hands as they craft delight and beauty and thought.
What is the heart and soul of man?
Originally written 2016. Dedicated to my dear friends who have mistaken the means for the end…I hope you learn to see.
Kimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family, including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.
She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
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