an artist’s burden/blessing

Currently reading/enjoying May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. How fitting, given my recent reclusive tendencies and bouts of feverish reading and writing. This passage helped me understand those tendencies/bouts. The chain: May Sarton recalling Humphrey Trevelyan’s reflections on Goethe, and the qualities necessary for an artist to remain creative:

He must retain an abnormally keen awareness of life, he must never grow complacent, never be content with life, must always demand the impossible and when he cannot have it, must despair. The burden of the mystery must be with him day and night. He must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy.

Sounds so hard, so uncomfortable, and so desirable, all at once. The *examined* life isn’t always an easy one to live. Which is why I find art (writing, photography, music, film, etc.) such a relief…a way of living creatively, instead of fearfully, a way to make some small sense of the confusions and complications of life (to quote Madeleine L’Engle – she’ll get her own post, soon). Not that art can only be produced because of/with such turmoil and angst and pain. But any understanding that comes from dealing with/confronting confusions and complications by creating art or experiencing someone else’s is more than welcome, in my mind. More to come…

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1 Comment

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One response to “an artist’s burden/blessing

  1. This is lovely. Funny when i first read the quote, I paused and thought: I wonder if she’s read Madeleine L’Engle on art/creating?” Should have kept reading before heading to Amazon to add “Walking on Water” to my cart (I’ve read it but don’t own a copy). Can’t wait to hear more!

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