Art is merely perception that challenges existing concepts in a novel fashion.
Now, I don’t really know what that means but it sounds vaguely artsy. I find it difficult to engage in such broad generalizations. If you want to sell me on a concept I much prefer specifics. Details.
And context. Context carries with it all the importance in the world.
For example, if you were to say to me, “It is better to create than to learn. Creating is the essence of life”, I’d probably think that was an okay bumper sticker.
However, if you then told me that particular quote is by Julius Caesar — well, stop the presses, kids!
This from the guy who created tens of thousands of corpses and oppressed entire nations to build a massive empire, but never learned not to kill people in the process?
Okay, he did give us aqueducts. Hats off for the aqueducts. But otherwise the ludicrous nature of this quote makes it hilarious once you know who said it.
Giving it context makes all the difference.
Einstein was more pithy and succinct: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Now that’s a bumper sticker. Knowing its author really adds gravitas to the words, especially if his picture is on it.
For me the essence of the creative act is a dismissal of all rules save one: Integrity. We are drawn to the creative act because it is so telling of our deepest and most hidden truths.
It is monumentally difficult to create. Most people are stifled by the intimidation of it all. And for those who try and fail, it can be more dispiriting than mere defeat. It is a theft of all enthusiasm that amounts to a wringing out of the soul.
And yet those are the people I admire most. Because they tried.
The ones who continue to try, and then try again and again — those with longing in their bones who open their veins and investigate the depths and still seem to come up dry. Their expression may not discover an audience but it makes their effort no less valuable and their art no less sincere.
I have a weakness for the tryers because I’m of the same cloth. Nothing takes more time or effort or blood or madness or bouts of screaming frustration than trying. No other crushing of the spirit can match the deadening heartbreak of standing in the shadow of true creativity and feeling empty handed.
And still the tryers try.
I do admire them.
They move among us. They’re our neighbors, friends, and dear ones, ever longing for fruitful expression.
That very hunger is the quintessence of art and it drives every creative soul.
Though we may rarely recognize the bloom they have labored to produce, I take heart in the words of A. A. Milne who noted,… “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”