Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Friday, March 06, 2009

The War Between Form and Creation

Here's a recent poem, followed by the essay it suggested to me:

Funny how the thought of starving to death
bothers me less than the thought
of my poems vanishing.

What I will not lose, whatever the economy,
is I. Even if I forget myself, even if I try
to lose myself, I will survive as what haunts me.

but I have relearned how to know myself
as the creator, not what I create.
Poems may perish, those ripples
in the stream of creation, standing waves
of varied configuration, depending upon
the forms (boulders, pebbles, rhymes, meters
ideas, words, experience) through which
I direct that stream. They mark the joy
we create as perishable as poems,
but not our ability to create it, not
the joy of creating, not a mark
on me.

The War Between Form and Creation

Natively, creativity knows no barriers. It is a "Let there be_____!" that instantaneously puts there what is intended. But the game of art, as it is played, depends on barriers. In a way, a work of art is a form created where one's creativity plays over (lambently licks over, sprays over, bounces about on, dances over) an apparent barrier to creativity.
Why do artists nominate stones and sounds and other energy forms to be barriers and then pretend that creation is an exertion of energy against energy to create energy patterns? Why sculpt, laboriously, a David or a Venus from stone? Why not simply "let there be" a marble David, a bronze Venus?
Because we have forgotten how to create, become habituated to energy games? Or because we have all agreed to be unable to perceive one another's creations, called them "dreams" and, worse, called them "mere"? Because we've called it an "invasion of privacy" to perceive the dreams of others? Perhaps, more basic: To make a game out of creating, we pretend to be unable to perceive one another's creations – a joke: "Image of a palace?...nope, can't see it...are you sure you're not imagining things?"
And after playing that game – and having it played on us – for a long time, we become persuaded that it is hard to see the creations of others, and that our own creations are hard for others to see, and that we cannot even see our own creations ourselves – because we've agreed (despite our having a greed for creations) that they are hard to see.
How often do we, thus, create, unaware of our own creation? (That is what a mind is!) For example, I notice a tune running "in my mind," noticing also that it has been doing so for hours (since I created it this morning in the shower?). And for that long time, I didn't perceive it. It became the carrier wave for all my conscious perceptions during those hours. And what has been running through your mind, unperceived, for years? (Centuries?)
In the absence of the ability to perceive a simple creation, we all agree to perceive physical energy and mass. That becomes the legal tender of art. To play in this universe, one must agree to perceive it and be affected by energy and by that condensation of energy we call matter. So now we must WORK to create – hence works of art, which are oxymorons, really works of play, where we direct the play of creativity onto or against the creations we have agreed to call "real" or "physical." And where our energy (for we now identify our creativity with the energy we employ in order to create) meets physical energy, and, as permanent-seeming ripples and purls and eddies form on the surface of a stream, passing over obstructions and irregularities, so energy forms we call art are created where our energy meets barriers (also energy).
The complexity here is hard to unravel: We create our creative energy. We create (by agreement) the permanence of the energy forms we consider to be barriers to creativity. The we use the interaction of these created energies to create a form -- a form that we could simply have, instantaneously "dreamed" into existence and probably did, in order to use that dream (already as perfect and as real as we cared to make it, like the picture of a stream you saw and felt when I mentioned ripples, eddies and purls) -- to use that form as a pattern for our energy games.
As a further elaboration (though we tend to mistake it for simplification), we blind ourselves to our own intentions and let the physical forms seem to tell us what to create. We do "action" art, droodles, random words on a page, find all sorts of ways to persuade ourselves that the rock is telling us what form to extract from it (as if we were peeling a fruit), that the physical universe is doing all the creating, leaving us to be the bemused spectators or, at most, facilitators. Energy is the wizard. We are the wizards apprentices, doing the mickey-mouse work. If we imagine ourselves creators, we'll get in trouble. Beware of brooms bearing water. If you could make a lightning bolt stream from your pointing finger, it would melt your arm.
And yet, we choose the medium, direct the effort and choose to perceive (a form of creation in itself) the art in what results.
I'm In a room with many paintings on the walls. There's also a window – as rectangular as any painting, but with more light, more motion and more depth (though each painting emerged from a creation full of light, motion and depth). What an amazing painting I've just created, right there, where a moment ago, there was a hole in the wall though which I could view a tiny cut-out of a large scene. Now there's a whole in the wall, complete unto itself.
If there's a window where you are now, and you are inside, looking out into daylight, see how long it takes you to create such a painting by considering that window a work of art.
In a way, art is love: We grant to physical universe objects and energies everyone has agreed to call "real" – we grant them that reality and enhance it by agreeing that our creativity cannot do without it, cannot, without effort, pervade that stuff. Our creativity cannot own stuff except via more stuff of the same sort (the agreed-upon physical energy we call "work" or "effort").
Ah, but an artist's love is also love for our creative potential. He isn't only enhancing or decorating an agreement not to perceive each other's dreams. Onto the carrier wave of physical effort, he can heterodyne admiration, a frequency too fine to be blocked by any barrier, a pervasion that haunts matter with the joy of instantaneous creation, a kind of calling card that says a creator has been here, a subversive reminder, camouflaged by the complexities of the game called art, that reminds us of the nature of the game, a golden thread that one can tug upon to unravel the game, when (because we have grown) it no longer fits us, begins to strangle us.


Susie Hemingway said...

I liked this post very much...finding it most interesting. I shall read your blog again. Thank you.
Sincerely Susie Hemingway Moursi

Dean said...

Thanks, Susie.


Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read the post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.