Some scientists today have fantasies of living forever, of moving faster than the speed of light to visit far away galaxies, of going back or forward in time. They back it up with fancy equations, too. I am impressed that physicists have figured out that, at the atomic level, the act of measuring changes an outcome, that the observer inevitably influences the experiment.
Why does it seem so hard for scientists to accept that the experiment influences the observer as well? I’m convinced that the “you” who travels far and wide through time and space, who lives for an eternity, will bear very little resemblance to the present “you” seeking these experiences. It is the artist’s task to imagine this distant “you”.
Peace and quiet might be good for our hermits and sages. An artist can’t afford to look for them or hold on to them. Even when emotions run high, deadlines are approaching, and the phone is ringing, the artist remembers herself and creates from the heart. Experience may be deepened, but life itself cannot be put on hold.
Through my work I meet a lot of thoughtful, successful individuals and I get to visit gorgeous properties in our already beautiful area. To be honest, I’ve often had reservations about ownership and affluence as in my mind it’s closely associated with negative power and control. What I can appreciate is the love and care that these places have been showered with. I’ve realized now that the problem is not one of ownership, but of stewardship.
We’ve become very adept at taming and manipulating everything. Our major political systems are based on and refined around ownership (either as a positive or a negative) – although today none of them seem to totally satisfy. As for stewardship, maybe we haven’t done so well. The earth is burning, what we feed ourselves is making us sick rather than sustaining us, the connections to and between ourselves seem to have loosened.
The attitude of the artist is crucial. She has given up the comfort of worldly possessions and influence, often consciously, in favor of care, a heart connection to things. A real artist might not own many resources, but given the resources he knows how to create beauty. An artist deliberately transcends the power level to enter the heart level.
We all have doubts, too. Don’t ever be fooled that a lack of worldly success is a weakness. Instead, show how to live in the heart, be a steward of the earth, and create beauty regardless of who owns the resources.
So far I have read two chapters in Salman Rushdie’s Luka and the Fire of Life, and I already know the book is going to be brilliant. Like nature, his writing is recursive. However, repetition is never boring or facile; each detail, each turn of phrase advances the story and reveals consistently the form of the whole. This kind of mastery is inspiring.
Art is not a luxury. Now, when often we conveniently see people as mere statistics and things as mere commodities, art can’t aim to entertain us only, or even just to be the reflecting mirror for our society. Rather, art is the talisman inside of which true knowledge and understanding are preserved, and artists are nothing less than the guardians of our humanity.