I just read a wonderful post over at ARTSblog that examined the role of suffering in great art. You know, that myth where it is only through great tragedy and personal misery that exemplary art gets born. The author of this post proposes a slight twist to that old saw. Its well worth reading. Check it out here.
Anyway, in my typical and tired presumption that I might have something interesting to say about someone else’ blog topic I left yet another of my highfalutin internet rambles. Here’s what I had to say:
These are great ideas to explore. Thank you so much for sharing them!
I think you are 100% correct that vulnerability lies at the center of both our humanity and our capacity for art. I wouldn’t say just great art, but I’d say all art. And I wouldn’t limit vulnerability to the the sad part of the human condition. Vulnerability means openness. It means having the capacity to be affected. And so while we might point out the suffering that Zara implicates in his examples of ‘great’ art, it is also this underlying foundation at the core of our being that proclaims we are not done yet, that we have not learned all there is to learn, and that we have not experienced all there is to be experienced.
And so I would say that our vulnerability is the hallmark of our incompleteness, that we can still be affected by the world. And its so much more than simply suffering. We are vulnerable to beauty and to humor. We are vulnerable to ecstatic moments of joy and to moments of pure selflessness. It is our testament to being alive.
So yes, it seems that any art worth the name will have its teeth in a moment or two of vulnerability. It will have roots sunk deep in the well from which we experience the world. And what leads this universal human capacity to creative expression is that it tangles with our imagination. In the cauldron that is the creative soul, our vulnerability finds its cosmic reagent in the fertility of our dreams. And a strange alchemy is born. And we are gifted with art. And we may not even be aware of where it came from, but it is powerful and it is true.
And perhaps it is this openness that we need to encourage more. Perhaps there is a lack of curiosity, a satisfaction and self satisfaction that stunts our creative exploration. Just maybe we are not vulnerable enough. Perhaps it is through encouraging more people to do more with their own creativity that we best reaffirm the value of our vulnerability. Perhaps it is by reminding ourselves that everyone at heart is an artist, that this is our natural birthright, perhaps it is by doing this more consistently in our lives and encouraging it more pervasively in the lives of others, that we build a society that is more sensitive to strange beauty, that is more open to wonder and to the surprise serendipity of our unfolding world. The more we are incurious the less we are vulnerable to the world. And that seems like an awfully important thing to realize…..
Thanks again for your great post. These ARE things worth thinking about.