Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Essence is In the EYE of the beholder

Art that is memorable and gets your attention is usually speaking the language of "soul." Soul Speak is a real language and its lexicon is semiotic.

Unforgettable art, not always from the vaults of the masters, employs the semiotics of archetypal images and cross cultural phenomena. Themes that are universal find their way into the stunning works that are then interpreted personally sometimes without the realization that there is a subliminal message and that it just may be universal.

Art is in the eye of the beholder, or is it? Maybe it's the eye of the cosmos- for what is man but a reflection of God or God's way of looking back on itself? The cosmic mirror. Soulspeak art can and often does shatter convention. Its purpose is to awaken, or better yet to startle awake.

Artworks have not just chronicled history, they have changed history. Artist ofen compose because they have something to say. Art can sometimes say it better than words. If words could describe the thing, it wouldn't need to be painted or photographed or sculpted. So it follows that art should be appreciated silently, without words. It is meant to be breathed in, savored with breath held and then exhaled empty of its juciness. The observer of a stunning piece of art should have to carry cloth-- not to wipe only the brow but one's chin.

When semiosis and synchronicity combine that is a seminal soulspeak moment. It is magic and it is saying "pay attention here." It is a crossroads of the cosmos and the human soul that opens an invisible portal to a soul-expanding experience. One leaves that moment changed never to return to the being that inhabited the body even just a moment ago. That being is nevermore and in its place is a new human.

The human soul arranges these moments for the individual human and the collective human soul arranges them for humanity. When a powerful seminotic piece of art or a trend is introduced into a culture, that culture is forever changed. From that moment on, the language is richer, the lexicon fuller, and the magic genie who arrived is not going back to the bottle.

Seminal work thrust into the cultural matrix can disturb, agitate, irritate; it can also bring cause to celebrate. Seminal semiotic soulspeak connotes a moment that begs to be seized and squeezed for all its nectar. That nectar is not always sweet for sometimes there are those who introduce an irritant deliberately in order to provoke and by provoking, change things.

Words are a form of art too. Sculpting with words is an artform. A wordsmith must use language and assemble it in a configuration to convey a semblance of something even though it will never be that something. By virtue of its being a description of the thing, it will necessarily be one step removed from the thing. Like an artist who sketches a likeness that will never be the actual object being conveyed, the essence of it is what the artist wants to communicate.

So where is the essence? Is it... in the paint? The brush? The idea? Is it inherent in the project? Is it in the artist? In the conveyance? Words can communicate but do they capture the essence? It is my belief that the essence is actually wordless. It is in the energy-- the energetic exchange between artist and observer. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but there is much more in the eyes of the beholder, and much more than the eyes of the beholder engaged-- the essence is in the energy that impacts the beholder! Sometimes it is an engagement of communion.

Good art has an impact. Successful writing zaps the reader. Successful music is transcendent. Successful paintings evoke emotion and the most successful evoke movement or energy. Rare art can provoke a hypnotic stare with a unwillingness to blink or take the eye off of the work. It is the psyche groping absentmindedly without looking for a chair because one must... sit.

High art changes the world spiritually. The most evocative and powerful work communicates a feeling that makes one compelled to move or do or change something to its higher form. The best art is compelling. It compels us to feel, to move, to think, to act. It moves us. It moves energy. It shakes the atoms! (Is it a wave or particle? It's both!)

Did you encounter something that moved you, touched your heart, moved you to tears, caused you to do something, feel something? Did it cause you to act from your heart? From your soul? Did it give you pause? Did it convince? Inform? Change a perspective? Was it memorable? Did you incorporate it into yourself and your experience? Has it become a part of you? Did it pull you in? High art integrates, has humanity, is soulful and shifts something within. As a result the beholder is forever changed and new. That being is running a new energy within as a result of the encounter. The how and why are in the energy, the what is in the intention... and that's another conversation. The question begged is what was intended?

To use a metaphor (a unique and often successful artistic conveyance,) when the path of the arrow is uncluttered and clear, there is force behind the release, the archer is skilled, the arrow must of necessity, hit the mark as intended. The arrow does not know good or evil or the intention of its use... only the archer knows. The arrow is going to impact. And the target will never ever return to its original and pristine state.

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...