Expanding the mind
So, this isn’t exactly what is happening in the studio, but more around it- however, I do believe it all relates to what eventually happens during the art-making process. Since my little one was born, and really more recently than before, I find I have been slipping more and more often in to the lazy habit of escaping through pointless tv, a silly movie, or a book that takes pretty much none of my brains to read. Not that I have a terrible life to escape from- it’s more the tiredness that comes with having a toddler around the clock and a teenager who is recently trying out the MO of “maybe my Mom won’t find out”. I’ve got to keep on top of that kid these days. This coupled with the general tedium of domesticated life- cooking, dishes, laundry, errands… blah blah blah. Unfortunately, falling into this habit just dulls things further- contributing to what I believe is the general “dumbing-down” of society. Or at least me. Three things have recently brought this newly acquired bad habit to light.
1. An article recently sent to me from a friend from the huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blackberry/p.html?id=2507024
beautifully written and heartbreaking to read as a parent, it was still pure deliciousness to read itself. Reminded me of the pleasure of reading quality contemporary writing.
2. Working my way (again) through the Victorian era classics on my kindle app.
( I just delved into another classic work after spending the last 6 months on junk. I’m not talking about quality contemporary literature, I’m talking about pure junk- as I am quite embarrassed to admit. )
One of the things I notice again and again is characters spending their evenings in the study reading, studying and generally practicing the “expansion of the mind”. This practice was of course pretty exclusive to those of gentleman class and specifically the gentlemen themselves, but this still stands out for me over and over. Old and young, this was highly praised and encouraged- to be able to converse intellectually, have a sound education and be aware of what was happening in the world. Many people still practice this level of keeping up, but I do believe that society no longer encourages this as a whole, instead being very much wrapped around escapism and the act of “checking one’s brain”.
3. Another close friend and fellow artist (www.boxheart.org) posted today on his Facebook page a quote from Rilke and a quote from Paul Cezanne:
“I believe in the logical development of everything we see and feel through the study of nature and turn my attention to technical questions later; for technical questions are for us only the simple means of making the public feel what we feel ourselves and of making ourselves understood.”
Art History!, Art Criticism!, Learning from the writings of brilliant artists long gone! A few years ago I wrote a stellar paper about Cezanne- I think he is amazing. This served as a refreshing reminder to delve back into my library of art history and art writings.
At any rate, I don’t condemn the need to escape into silliness occasionally. But when it becomes a habit it slowly deadens the mind… which I think is an especially dangerous thing for any artist to play with.