Friday, June 3, 2016

searching for magic

It is not, I suspect, the artistes seules who set out in search of the magic. While the artistic bent may raise the profile of the effort to touch down in peace and wonder, still I think there is probably a snippet of DNA common to all, from pigeon-handlers to garbage collectors, that compels the travels and travails ... all in the search for a settlement that brooks no doubt. Artists may get the press, but the less self-absorbed do equal work, snuffling as for truffles for that which will still the endless tick-tock that marks the search ... stills the pendulum, imposes a relaxation, and, quietly, smiles.

But I think of the artists today. Setting off quite consciously sometimes in search of the essence. Further and further their music or colors or words take them ... nearer and nearer, please God, to that unknown which is nonetheless posited. Blood, sweat and tears in search of magic.

I think of the artists and their great mistake, as it occurs to me today. Their art weaves the net they cast and cast and cast anew, and each time come up close, perhaps, but never for long. The flaw is imagining -- secretly and not so secretly -- that by casting an artful net, however delicate or delicious, the magic might be caught and tamed and ... mine. How many intricate artists weave how many intricate nets and are intricately praised by onlookers who instinctively recognize the hunt and imagine from that that artists have somehow come closer than they. The artists reap praises ... and remain distraught.

The nut problem lies in the fear that accompanies the search -- the set-up that stipulates: "If I cannot control the magic, how could it possibly be mine? How could it possibly be true?" The premise is that the magic must be clasped and held tight and expounded. As a result, the artful artifices go on and on and on -- cast after fruitless cast. It is frightening to imagine that the magic might work without the artist's efforts. God is fine, thank you very much, without a single note of praise or theological wangling. Magic works and needs no translation. Translations burden the scene. The fear that there might not be magic if the artist didn't assert it is an awful fear. It needs to be overcome.

So ...

In the search for God, leave God out of it. In the search for magic, set magic aside. Yes, it may not be easy and writing "Ulysses" may seem like an answer. The complexity of abstract art may seem to advance the cause. The dissonance of what might be sweet music wrestles with the universe, perhaps. But the fence needs to be leapt over and left behind.

How I wish Ummon had found less artful words that are, for all that, on target:
When you can't say it, it's present.
When you don't say it, it's missing.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. Panning for gold for at least a hundred years on this very internet, I stop in this spot often. There's a lot you can find here. Today, in this spot, with this exact sunlight, and your thoughts, I struck it rich. Cue the image of Walter Huston dancing the dusty jig in Treasure of the Sierra Madre!