Pearls from artists* # 349March 13, 2019
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
If Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, and so many others were able to create great artistic works, it was because they were able to pull off something few adults can find it in themselves to do: they were able to suspend all final judgments about life and the universe in order to play…
The spirit of work is concerned with self-preservation. It evaluates concepts and ideas in terms of their practical value. Building roads, raising walls, running elections, debating policies, educating the young – all of these are purposive actions ultimately aimed at upholding social structures, changing those structures, or promoting one’s place within society. The spirit of work is the home of the ego, the part of us that has evolved to survive and thrive. One of the conditions of the artistic creation seems to be the ability to move frame this frame of mind into the spirit of play. As many artist have said in varying ways, the trick is to forget everything and create for the sake of creating. No worthwhile play, of course, is without effort. As the painstaking care Flaubert put into every line of his books makes clear, the spirit of play is sometimes the most exciting. Nevertheless, art remains in essence a game, an activity undertaken for its own sake, no matter how difficult. Like all games, it requires the establishment of a perimeter within which things that one might take very seriously in ordinary life are given only relative value. The perimeter suspends all the conventional rules, allowing the artist to turn the world on its head and let the imagination roam freely.
No sooner have we entered the spirit of play than we see things differently.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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