This week The New Yorker magazine published an article on their online site in their "Page-Turner" section. It is entitled "A Hundred Years of T.S. Eliot's 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'" This article is appropriate to me. I have been wondering out-loud, here, and to my friends, about art and mindfulness. Mindfulness in art, to me, is stating personal truth and reality. If taken literally, this is a monumental task. Knowing oneself is not easy, exhibiting oneself in one's art is even harder. T.S. Eliot's take is fascinating. Eliot believed the artist is a mere conduit of ideas, and those ideas are not necessarily an exhibit of the actual personality of the artist. For Eliot, the artist does not serve as a medium but has a medium: "The poet has, not a 'personality' to express," Eliot writes, "but a particular medium...and not a personality." In Eliot's famous essay, "I...invite you to consider, as suggestive analogy, the action which takes place when a bit of finely filiated platinum is introduced into a chamber containing oxygen and sulfur dioxide... The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum." That is to say, the artist is a catalyst. The artist isn't affected by the reaction, nor does any trace of his personality appear in the final product — but without the artist the reaction does not take place. Apparently Shelley said something similar, i.e, the artist is "the influence which is moved not, but moves."
What a relief it is to remove the intensity of self-criticism, questioning the exhibition (or not) of one's personality in one's art. Reading this article is a relief to me. I struggle with so many aspects of art-making. My art reflects me as its spark and not me as itself.
This release from self-hood allows for complexity as solution. Yesterday's drawing is such a thing.
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