Thursday, January 05, 2006

Some of THE questions

Well here we go. I want to say that I am not trying to write a book, a dissertation, convert readers, etc. I would like to share some thoughts of mine and thoughts of others to come to a clearer understanding of the soul of art and its role in culture today.

I want to begin with some words of a man who wrestled with being an artist and struggled to make his art in an environment not at all conducive to honest expression, but ironically an atmosphere ripe with meaning regarding the role and responsibility of the artist to the world. Andrey Tarkovsky (1932-1986) was a Russian film director/writer who lived and worked in the Soviet Union. He is considered by some to be one of the greatest directors of the cinema. He wrote Sculpting in Time to discuss his art and his thoughts about the artist. His thoughts on the aim of art are incredibly relevant to any discussion on art. (Please be conscious while reading these quotations not to do violence to the text, i.e., to discount, discredit, or even to disagree without thoughtful reflection. Also, I think it is good to realize that the one speaking has spent an incredible amount of time and energy thinking and then doing his art, praying and then acting. Let us take care to do the same.)

"...the goal for all art is to explain to the artist himself and to those around him what man lives for, what is the meaning of his existence. To explain to people the reason for their appearance on this planet; or if not to explain, at least to pose the question." Tarkovsky then goes on reflecting on the creation narrative and the search man is forced into: the search for Truth. "In a very real sense every individual experiences this process for himself as he comes to know life, himself, his aims. Of course each person uses the sum of knowledge accumulated by humanity, but all the same the experience of ethical, moral self-knowledge is the only aim in life for each person, and, subjectively, it is experienced each time as something new. Again and again man correlates himself with the world, racked with longing to acquire, and become one with, the ideal which lies outside him, which he apprehends as some kind of intuitively sensed first principle. The unatttainability of that becoming one, the inadequacy of his own ' I ', is the perpetual source of man's dissatisfaction and pain. And so art is a means of assimilating the world, an instrument for knowing it in the course of man's journey towards what is called 'absolute truth'."