Sunday, July 27, 2008

Perhaps we're all originally from Denmark...

What a wonderful film.

Aside from the potent evocation of love, it makes a strong comment about art. In a way, the narrator is a daughter of Sigrid Undset. Undset begat that which begat the narrator, and it is only through Undset's art that the narrator came to exist at all. Even though it was not apparent to the artist, the creative power of the art stretched far into history.

In this context, art can be seen as an occult science. The methods are obscure, the rationale is debatable, and the results are hidden. The artist moves the lives of others and inadvertently manipulates the stream of events. This film is a is a rallying cry to all artists. Keep pushing, it says, our success is measured far beyond our purview.

Though we may never think ourselves to be great or noteworthy, we may nonetheless create great things from our efforts. This is, to me, a fundamental refutation of the notion that art is a purely commercial enterprise. We move the world in a way that does not follow money. We move the world along paths of love and imagination. We move the world, because we allow ourselves to be moved by it

To me, this is the very definition of an act of faith. We have faith in the practice. We have faith in the rightness of being.

We move the world because we must.

Picture Credits: Hermes Trismagestis as the Alchemist by an unknown artist via the Kybalion, Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur by Leonora Carrington via Eve's Alexandria, Le Bateleur tarot card via Neue Gruendlichkeit. The sweet sterographic projection of the Église d'Auvers-sur-Oise is part of the Wee Planets series by Gladl via Flikr. Thanks to Damon for recommending the video.


Hungry Hyaena said...

A wonderful little film, Michael, and a wonderful little post.

Artists, I agree, most often move "along paths of love and imagination," but I also believe that all who live with eyes, ears, mind and heart curious and open are participating in the occult science you describe. In some respects, it's Lorenz's butterfly effect; we're all part of a dynamic system.

I worry that, of late, we - all of us, artists included - have less "faith in the rightness of being." We smirk or scoff at that which may betray some sensitivity to the rest of it. I'm biased by my own prejudices, but I attribute much of this increased skepticism to our burgeoning population. We may all be movers in this dynamic, occult science, but there can be too much of a good thing.

Michael said...

I agree entirely. We do all take part in the interchange. Artists and their ilk, however, seem to heap more of their results in the 'unknown' column of the ledger.

Take a city planner as an example. If a bridge is built connecting point A to point B it will irrevocably and immeasurably alter the character of a city. Still, the results can be seen in the physical structure, the people employed, and the volume of traffic that moves over the bridge. The planner can look at data describing the effect of the bridge on local traffic, land values, business revenues, and even demographics. Although the greater ramifications are unknown, the planner has a lot to work with.

An artist, in contrast, has a much more difficult time studying the results of his actions. Even if an artist were to measure both the number of viewers and the average view time, it would tell him very little about the effect that the work is having. What does a Van Gogh do? How does it change the viewer? How long does it take to enact this change? Even with extensive polling, I think we'd be hard-pressed to come up with a decent answer to these questions.

The artist is akin to a city planner who can only say 'we built a structure at point A with which x number of people have interacted.'

This combined with the general erosion of faith/sensitivity that you describe, seems to have caused many artists rely on celebrity and profit as measures of success.

Those two are fickle masters, and I'm hoping to avoid servitude to either. I'm casting my lot with skill and integrity. Though I have only meager stores of both, they seem like much better things to cultivate.

...and yes... there are WAY too many people.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Well put, Michael...

...but this guy would heartily disagree!

Mary Beth said...

i like what you wrote. and HH, that guy looks like a tool. :P