"oh what a tangled interweb we weave..."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Inspiration, Listening and Walking on Water

I was criticizing every movie I have seen recently the other night when the person I was talking to looked at me and said, “Wow, you are just so uninspired right now, huh?”

So, forgive the regurgitation that follows but one of the most best books I’ve read for uninspiration is called Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L’Engle who wrote A Wrinkle in Time.

A summary of some of the things that I learned from this book:

*As an artist, my act of service is to the story. I had always thought that my act of service was to the audience but in reading this book I realized I cannot control what the audience thinks of my work and therefore I should make my greatest priority telling the story to the best of my abilities. This also takes enormous pressure off of worrying about the very objective ways people will view my performances.

"Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays but the artist must be obedient to the work whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a child. I believe that each work of art... comes to the artist and says 'Here am I. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.'"

*Art (similar to prayer) requires listening which is a discipline.

"The artist must be obedient to the command of the work, knowing that this involves long hours of research, of throwing out a month's work, of going back to the beginning, or, sometimes scrapping the whole thing. But when the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect."

*The best work occurs when I listen and die to myself.

"To serve a work of art, great or small, is to die, to die to self. If the artist is able to listen to the work, he must get out of the way; or more correctly he must be willing to be got out of the way, to be killed to self in order to become the servant of the work."“When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist; Shakespeare knew how to listen to his work and so he often wrote better than he could write…

*Creating art requires not only a leap of faith but also a relinquishment of control.

"The challenge is to let my intellect work for the creative act, not against it. And this means, first of all, that I must have more faith in the work than I have in myself."

And some random quotes she gives which I love:

"Far too often today children are taught, both in school and at home, to equate truth with fact. If we can't understand something and dissect it with our conscious minds, then it isn't true. In our anxiety to limit ourselves to that which we can comprehend definitively we are losing all that is above, beyond, below, through, past, over that small area encompassed by our conscious minds."

“There is no denying that the artist is someone who is full of questions, who cries them out in great angst, who discovers rainbow answers in the darkness and then rushes to canvas or paper. An artist is someone who cannot rest, who can never rest as long as there is one suffering creature in the world….Perhaps the artist longs to sleep well every night, to eat anything without indigestion, to feel no moral qualms, to turn off the television news and make a bologna sandwich after seeing the devastation and death…. But the artist cannot manage this normalcy. Vision keeps breaking through and must find means of expression.”

Inspiration: check.

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