05 November 2013

On Life and Art

In the culture of celebrity, the artist is royalty. In an era of technological ubiquity, everyone and his sister aspires to this nobility. But does the concept of iconic culture-bearer hold any meaning when democratized to 99 percent? And why limit our accolades anyway to the traditional domains of "the arts"? Why not celebrate the art of life, and find a way to recognize and appreciate and make viral the simple yet remarkable achievements of everyman, everywoman? Let Facebook, that sprawling domain showcasing the daily exploits of everycat, lead the way...

jamAs a self-complaint and disclosure, I might say that I exercise poor discipline in furthering "my art" - whether that includes writing, drumming, playing flute, photography. Those at least are the categories most recognizable as arts, even if my own production in any of them has been rather modest: slightly above "amateur" and somewhat below "professional." The excuse I use provides the ballast for this essay's argument: that I am largely engaged instead in a creative quest that might be termed "lifestyle architecture," seeking optimum design that work for me - and, to the extent possible in collaboration with my life-partner, friends, housemates and bandmates - if not in any prepackaged form for wider consumption.

Beyond the arbitrary and conventional categories of art as practiced above, comes the more rarified and subjective realm of spiritual practice, not designed as a communication medium but certainly one intended, in most religions, to refine the self for the benefit of others. Thus the self is the medium of creation; self-creation becomes the ever unfinished work which however is always on display, in performance ready or not. Does the spiritual medium translate into objective criteria of evaluation? Such as... percentage of time smiling? Days per year not needing mood-enhancing substances? Number of life-partners less than or greater than 1? Number of followers of one's spirituality blog? The proof is in the pudding; but where does the pudding reside? More to the point, Who is the pudding? Who, indeed, is asking the question?

Finally we can all, aspiring artists and those knowing better than to bother, fall back upon the more mundane levels of living - those denoted by the "lower chakras" of root existence, survival and procreation, individual will and social and heart connection. We engage, after all, in a daily creation of our own lives, personalities, lifestyles, networks of sustenance and sociability. Is this realm of "life itself" not also a valid arena revealing our creativity, the manifestation of our living spirits, our abilities to achieve harmony, resonance and enduring value? There is no level playing field here, no system of final ranking for success or failure, happiness or popularity. No, not even money will serve, with its well-known contraindications and tendency to squelch as well as to liberate human potential.

So, as with the spiritual realm of self-expression, the worldly pursuits of "lifestyle architecture" (that is, just plain life, in the making) are largely subjective in value. Do you have 1000 Facebook friends or 3 true friends, and which is more indicative of your success? Is that success to be determined by yourself, your own standard of fulfillment, or a panel of self-appointed experts, or a panel of experts appointed by other self-appointed experts? What is success anyway? And who is asking that question?

cacaoMaybe those moments of life stolen from art go on to enrich and inspire the art. Maybe those moments of art stolen from life go on to enrich and inspire the life. Maybe it's all about the life, and art is just indulgence. Maybe it's all about the art, and life is just indulgence. Maybe there's no art without a life that works, and maybe no life without art that works. Maybe it's all an individual matter and to pronounce such maxims for everyone is pointless. Maybe art and life are just shades of the same phenomenon - conscious, creative human being - like light and dark, good and evil, love and fear, spirit and form, energy and matter. Maybe the quantum duality is nothing more than a plaything of the verbal mind, juggling yin and yang to eternity, for its own amusement and edification.

In the meantime, life goes on; and art can proceed of its own will. Art goes on, and life proceeds of its own volition. Each surfaces according to the need of the moment, or season, in the form each being requires for our final definition... before such definition is erased, like sand in a monk's mandala. So in the meantime, celebrate: each with one's own brush of the moment, or season.



rabbitfoot said...

Dear Pudding, the proof is there-of? Polarity is where it's at. Mao called it the "condtradiction"
(I believe he stole the idea from Confuscius, Yin and his wife Yang or coined a phrase from the IChing) It is the perimeter and skin of an "issue" that we strive in motion towards... ("NOT trying to perfect ourselves for others:
"God Forbid That." Once arriving to shore we then pull a "U"ey back to the opposite pole...waxing and waning forward through time in continuium...like a SNAKE in motion... MOTION(not emotion)creating CHANGE via POLARITY such is the science of life. Like the pattern of a side-winder (look ma: no hands) We leave our mark in time by one of two ways: We either leave behind ART or we leave KIN as a footprint of our evolutionary existance... Seeing is believing... Be self-conscientous and having seen this confounding principle we mythmake to explain it all. rr

Jacqueline said...

I love the way your mind works and your words flow. I am inspired by the big questions you offer. For me, as a reader, it is the experience of reading a whole-brained communication, and I can feel myself darting back and forth between the two sides of my own brain as I read--and hopefully, finding some more balance and conjoining in my own brain (rather than the way I mostly live, in a seeming constant battle between the parts).

I am reminded of this: I have noticed on FB lately (for the first time) people sharing brief experiences, such as the flower growing in their garden, or the cloud that appeared, or even "I am feeling sad today" with no big story, and I am touched by these sharings. These are the art of our human experience.