Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Art On!

My comments yesterday on the universal existence of the artist may seem to open the door for subjectivity, that everything must be "good" if one mere eye finds it pleasing. I do not ascribe to this sentiment. I used the phrase "good writing" yesterday, indirectly admitting to the existence of "writing" or even "bad writing." An objective standard exists whether we want to acknowledge it or not. This is why the likes of Homer, Joyce, and Morrison consistently barge into English classrooms. To argue that everything is equal would demean genius. What sadness that would be.

However, the existence of genius should not keep us artistic serfs from expressing ourselves. Simply becauese I cannot write like Eliot or paint like Monet or act like Kilmer (saw "Tombstone" this weekend; Doc Holliday's character is immaculate) does not mean I should abstain from creatively expressing myself. To do so would be to deny a part of my character, a vital part that reflects the image of my creator. This discouragement is what I fear when people narrow the definition of artist.

The University of North Carolina has many great basketball players. It has seen an even greater number pass through; multitudes of jerseys fill the rafters to remind people of this greatness. Every winter day on that campus, hundreds of the common enrolled flock to Woolen Gym to find pick-up games. A lot of these guys played ball in high school but simply choose not to continue their careers in college. Many did not but want to play anyways.

Wayne Ellington is a much better player than, say, me. That still does not keep me from going to get a little exercise, exhausting some excess competitive spirit, and participating in an activity that gives me life. In fact, I would wager to say he would even ENCOURAGE me to do so, just as I saw former UNC player Marvin Williams do when he visited the dorm courts to play with us athletic commoners my sophomore year.

How this response differs from the one I so often receive from the cultural bastions.

My friend (and more importantly, frequent commenter on "Redeeming Prufrock") Jeff has begun posting some works of fiction that he has created. I think this is beautiful. When we express ourselves through creation, when we do art, it really is a beautiful thing. We offer ourselves in a personal, intimate, vulnerable manner - kind of like how we are meant to relate to one another in authentic community. I believe creative expression is healthy and freeing, connecting us to one another. 'Tis a shame that anyone should be discouraged in that endeavor.

I am no Faulkner, O'Brien, or Greene, and I do not claim to be. Have pity on any generation that finds Humphries on the bookshelf next to Hemmingway. Yet, that fact should not keep me from creatively expressing myself and appreciating the beauty I see around me. From arting, if you will. We ought to encourage this expression from people. I think it would be pleasing to our Creator God. We are, after all, small chips off one big ol' block.


Tiffany said...

That's really lovely, Ben

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry about that last comment - I made a mess. :p

I adore your closing statement. 'Arting' is now joining my highly selective list of inspired vocabulary. :)