Of Life, Art, and the Artist

randomlychad  —  April 13, 2011 — 3 Comments

>portrait of the artist as a young manphoto © 2005 CHRIS DRUMM | more info (via: Wylio)

As a blogger, I believe that blog posts can–though don’t necessarily always do, but can–reach the level of art. Art in the sense that it is something that moves my soul, challenges, encourages, convicts me. Sometimes more so than longer form works. This of course is entirely subjective, because what moves me may not move you. And that’s okay.

But I think we can agree that posts can at least aspire to greatness, and sometimes even achieve it.

Else why do we who blog toil so diligently to find just the right words day after day? What drives us on? We pursue our art. As simple, and yet as profound, as that. We pursue our art (maligned and misunderstood as it is).

Which we hope may lead us, perhaps, to longer works, more recognition.

And therein lies a trap: yes, we hope, we want, we crave, to be read, but when the work ceases to be about the work, and becomes something about the ego, I submit to you that it is no longer art. Oh, it may have all the trappings of art, but it is no longer so. We have compromised artistic integrity for mere recognition.

We who write, sculpt, paint, whatever, must love the work more than the audience. Yes, connecting with an audience is a natural outflowing of the art, but it cannot be primarily about the audience. Our art is first and foremost for ourselves (and indeed for the God Who made us).

And if it is good–a highly subjective, very malleable term–art, it will be about life. About defining, explaining, understanding, or not, life in all of its glorious messiness. And of course life is something that we can all relate to.

I fully believe that this is what the great works do, whether they be novels, poems, plays, or blog posts: they tap into the universal human experience, our shared story of life on this planet.

I said above that the work must be about the work, but herein lies another–more subtle, more devious–trap. Stephen King, who with his successes should know, said “Life is not a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” When life becomes about the art, instead of the art explaining, or at least trying to, life (complementing it), we’re missing it as artists.

Though I will likely never play in his league, we need look no further than an artist such as Ernest Hemingway to know that my above contention is true. When he could no longer live the life he thought he needed to to support his art, he did the only thing he (thought he) could: he killed himself. Think about this for a moment: his support system–life–was broken, so he opted out. Life was in subservience to art, and thus life lost. And this is but one example of life being a support system for art–instead of the other way around.

My friends, let us take these things to heart, strive to make our best art, and leave–as we should with our reputations as well–the outcome safely in the hands of He Who made us artists in the first place.

Remember: it’s not about the numbers, or the reach, or even storing up experiences (as Hemingway perhaps thought), but rather about using the gifts we’ve been given in a God-honoring way. Think of Eric Liddell, who said that he was “made to be fast,” and “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.”

That’s the place I want to be: where I feel God’s pleasure. Where I’m using my gifts to the best of my ability. What about you?

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randomlychad

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Michelle Woodman

    How did I miss this? Very good stuff!

    • Thanks, Michelle! I was in too much of a hurry today to link the rest, but there are other related posts following on subsequent Wednesdays (through the end of May last year, I think).