Archive for the ‘art’ Category

[tweetmeme source= “unmaskd” only_single=false]When it comes to dictionaries I have mixed feelings. Sure they are very helpful when you’re looking for a definition. But in their quest to describe a concept in dry terms, they sometimes lose something important on the way. Unless, of course, we’re talking about Urban Dictionary.

Take, for example, inspiration. Let’s ignore Mirriam-Webster’s not so helpful “the quality or state of being inspired” and look at TheFreeDictionary’s entry:

Inspiration: Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.

Accurate, yes. But so dry. Simulation of the mind… Come on, this is inspiration we’re talking about! All of us have experienced this feeling. It’s often associated with art, but you don’t have to be an artist to know what it’s like. You just need to be a human. Remember that sudden feeling when the world changes its colors, as something inside your mind comes to life and makes you do things that seemed almost impossible a moment ago? That feeling when everything seems possible; when everything is possible. The feeling that takes you to that next level be it in singing or running, writing or cooking. Of course, the next minute it’s gone, and you’re left with all the work it has lured you into, but you can still feel its trace. Try that for a definition (actually I’m glad they don’t).

And that’s where we getting to that Aha! moment. The most interesting part about this feeling is that it’s always triggered by something that someone else has done. It could be that line you’ve read, the tune you’ve heard, that movie you’ve watched, but it’s always about someone doing something that resonates with you. I don’t know about you, but that’s the case with me. I don’t get inspired by sunsets and breathtaking canyon views. I can enjoy them, but I get inspired by people.

Now let’s take another step down that rabbit hole. Say, you’re a songwriter writing new lyrics and on the way you get inspired by a Bob Dylan’s song. Well, at some point Bob had been inspired too. His inspiration? Dylan Thomas among others. Was anyone inspiring him? Sure. Arthur Rimbaud, for example. Who, in turn was often inspired by the works of Victor Hugo. Hugo’s inspiration? Some well known names including William Shakespeare. I’m going to stop here before we trace it down to Homer reciting his verses to the Greeks (which is entirely possible).

Think about this for a moment. Doesn’t it feel like you’re a link in an ages-long chain? I don’t mean it in some touchy-feely metaphorical way. I mean it nearly literally. The song that inspired you was written by someone whose mind had received a boost of inspiration from someone else’s work. Now it’s your turn — and the moment your song is born and others hear it, they may very well receive their own inspiration boost from it. Who knows maybe that spark of creativity you’ve experienced is an echo of thoughts that were crossing Dante’s mind as he worked on his Divine Comedy. It’s almost like a genealogy tree of inspired minds. And your mind is a part of it…

I’m going to stop again, this time before it gets creepy. There’s only thing that can be even more inspirational than work of others. But that’s a topic for another post. In the meanwhile, how far can you trace your inspiration?

Of Pictures and Words

Posted: May 14, 2010 in art

[tweetmeme source= “unmaskd” only_single=false]Psst… Can you hear it? The soft sound of grass underneath your feet? That fresh lush grass you’re walking though as you approach the Mountain. It is trying to tell you something in its velvet whisper, but it speaks the ancient language of plants, which you don’t understand. Is it warning you? Encouraging? Advising?… A light breeze blows in your face as the dark Mountain closes in. You’ve been walking toward it for four days and you are tired. But now that your destination is so close you feel weariness oozing away from your body. And then comes the moment you’ve been waiting for, the moment you’ve been dreaming about for so many years. You set foot on the surface of the Mountain, that eons of years old, primeval surface that so many generations have described in their legends. All is left is the last mile. It will lead you to your goal. The hardest mile…

Are you still reading? Or seeing? Feeling? Wandering? Do you still realize that all you see in front of you is just a sequence of signs we call letters? Or has your mind already transported you to the foothill of the mysterious mountain? If it has you have just experienced the power of words, which in turn have triggered the most powerful force you have — your imagination. Words only form a key that unleashes that power. Now even the world’s most talented painters would not be able to paint the same picture you’ve just seen. This is why movies based on our favorite books are so frustrating sometimes. They are trying to recreate what your imagination has already created for you and that is a doomed mission. Your imagination is the most powerful artist in the world. All it needs is inspiration.

Some pictures are worth thousands words. But we still use words to make that statement.

A Secret, a Thought and Michelangelo

Posted: April 28, 2010 in art

I’d like to give up a secret. No, not that one. And not that other one you’ve just thought about. This is one little, tiny, inconsequential secret. It’s not even dirty, so it’s borderline boring. See, when I was in school I had to write these essays. And when I had to write them I liked to insert quotes from famous people. Somehow our thoughts seem more significant if someone wise has said something to the same effect. The problem was, I didn’t have much patience for searching for the most fitting quotes. You already know where I’m going with this. Yes, I was writing them myself. Actually, I tried it once and it worked so well, that from that point on, my essays were always decorated with deep thoughts from the great ones.

My teacher liked them to say the least. “Your quotes are great!” she’d tell me excitedly. “Where are you finding them?” But I would only smile back, shrugging modestly.

I don’t remember most of these quotes, and I suspect this a good thing. I’m sure I would find most of them embarrassing now. Nevertheless, I do remember one. For an essay about art I wrote this: “The thought awakened by a work of art is the greatest reward to its creator”. I attributed the quote to Michelangelo. Somehow it seemed fitting.

Now, some moons later, I think that although Michelangelo didn’t really utter these words, he actually might have thought this way. Because this is what it really comes down to. Sure, artists like to be rewarded materially. They are people after all. But deep down every real artist knows that it’s not about money. No money, prizes or media attention can replace a single thought, a single emotion truly awakened by the artwork that you’ve brought into this world. Because when it happens you are the creator. And this feeling is what really makes true artists tick.

The comments and questions I received after publishing Night Flight a few days ago were truly rewarding. I am thankful for all of them. And yet I am not going to answer single one of them. At least not directly. You see, I believe that everything an artist wants to say should be expressed in his art. Be it a song, or a novel, a poem or a movie, it has to be the artist’s best effort to express whatever he feels like expressing. And then it is up to others to interpret and discuss, love or hate, adore or ignore. As for the artist, he’d better focus on his next project.

This isn’t arrogance. No, it’s something quite the opposite. Your ideas are as important as mine. Your emotions are as important as mine. It doesn’t matter what I meant when I was creating imagery of Night Flight. It only matters to me. As for you, it’s your thoughts that should count. True art bypasses logic and goes straight to emotions. And if I succeed at awaking a thought it is my reward. After all even Michelangelo thought so.