Summer 2005...”deep changes in life follow imagination”. -Thomas Moore
Why do we always think that we know what is best for ourselves? Why is it that we go along in life hoping for the best but usually expecting the worst? Where is the future determined? Who has control over what is happening? Why do we live in fear? How old will we be when we finally get what we want and stop living in a constant state of longing? Who has an answer that will satisfy us? What is it we desire? Do we desire to be seen? to be recognized? to be validated? to be successful? When will we be satisfied? In the new Star Wars, Annikan Skywalker wants it all. He is torn between love and control. He has a natural power, but is corrupted by grasping to hold onto life as he wants it to be. His fear creates the situation he is afraid of. In Buddhist terms it is attachment that undermines young Skywalker. As Yoda says, “The fear of loss is the path to the dark side.” I am reminded anew of why Joseph Campbell was a Star Wars fan. Lucas has tapped into an archetypal collective unconscious. When Padme questions if they are perhaps mistaken and that they have been supporting the wrong side, when The evil Chancellor announces that you are either with him or you are the enemy, when O B won Kenobe says before his battle with Darth Vader that only the Sith speak in absolutes, Lucas is challenging all of us to look at the world in something other than black and white terms. He is making us look deep into our own situations and examine how we make decisions and why. He is making the highest form of art disguised as popular entertainment. God bless him.
Have you visited the http://www.nantes.fr/ext/royal_de_luxe_2005 website yet? The other day, it was brought to my attention, and I was taken by the shot of the French official handing the artists the award for achievement. And I began to think about the priorities of governments and people. I was reminded that our government gives awards to soldiers for bravery. Recently I was at a major league baseball game (the Phillies beat the Mariners) and between innings the giant centerfield panovision scoreboard showed a sentimental tribute of returning soldiers in which average Americans clapped in patriotic slow motion as the the troops returned from war. Recently, someone said to me that the soldiers are protecting my rights and freedoms, they said that “everybody can’t just sit around and paint all day”, that someone “has to protect us.” I know I’m idealistic, but I said, wouldn’t the world be a safer place if everybody would just sit and paint all day. Or sit and write all day . Or sit and play music all day. Or sit and meditate all day. Oh, I know we have to work and make our money so that we can buy stuff and pay our taxes, so that our economy will be strong and so that we can pay the soldiers and buy their weapons to protect us. But, who is the enemy? What are we afraid of? I think that many artists have the same desires and motivations that drive politicians and capitalists. They want to be seen, to make a mark, to prove that their existence is or has been worth something. We are all victims to these base desires. How do we channel them? Do we conquer countries? Do we build tall buildings? Do we paint the most outlandish paintings we can? Do we try to control situations, people, our parents, our children? Sigmund Freud said that all artists are motivated by only two things...sex and fame. How can we, whether we are artists or not, start to find a higher calling? How can we operate, so that we are not causing any damage to other people or the earth? How can we acknowledge our existence without wreaking havoc on the world? Suzi Gablik has written much about art forms which transform the planet rather than glorify the individual artist. She has gotten regularly dowsed by the critics. I was in Houston recently for the Twombly openings and I overheard a curator criticizing Rothko. I got the sense that the critic just didn’t speak the same spiritual language and dismissed Rothko, because they couldn’t understand it. Personally, I feel that Rothko is head and shoulders above most of the other painters of his era. I think that Andrew Wyeth is misunderstood for a similar reason. He is addressing a great mystery. It has nothing to do with dogma or religion. It has nothing to do with the classical-modernist divide. It has nothing to do with abstraction or realism. It has to do with soul and artist’s original intent. Who are we making the art for and why? Annikan Skywalker tells the Chancellor that the difference between the Sith and the Jedi is that the Sith think “only of themselves” and the Jedi think “only of others”. Where does the divide between good and evil lie? For the artist it lies between their head and their heart. It is found squarely in our original intent. Why do we work? Usually I work to stay sane, to stay stable, to create to avoid hurting myself or others. It is a gentle act of sublimation. Sometimes, I work to pay the bills. And sometimes I work to glorify the great mystery.
All in all, I feel that this World is at a crisis point. Having put myself on news restriction, I haven’t been relentlessly following current events lately. The crisis won’t be healed from the outside in. The healing will have to start at the core. Each one of us must begin the difficult work of changing the things in our lives that take us further away from our selves. We must listen to our true self and not be afraid. It may shake things up abit. And getting to a point where we trust ourselves takes work. We have to quieten down enough to listen. I am trying. I urge you to try. Please. We may never come to a consensus. But, if we are lucky, we will come to a place of resolve for ourselves and we won’t feel the need to criticize others and to blame others and to waste our time talking about others or thinking that we are better than they are, hopefully we’ll grow into integrated, contained parts of a healthy and evolving whole. Hopefully, we’ll start to move out of thinking only about ourselves and start thinking about the whole. Imagine what you want in your life and live into it. Imagine what you want for the world and live accordingly. Thank you.
my summer list...