There are mammoth contradictions in the creation of Art. The pursuit of perfection begs the question: according to whom? The artist’s internal impulse, an objective standard set by the good and the great, or that which accords with immutable laws? We talk not so much of various arts and anti-arts movements (a mere symptom) but rather the endogenous source of artistic effect, that breathes in stimuli, imbues it with the self, and releases the product, which may be toxic or sweet or both.
In preparing to assess the imminent expelled air, we anticipate relying on:
We can cling to 1. We cleave to the blanket of assurance from The Critics (great birds flapping about in libraries, examining the expressions on faces of dead men – the less powerful learning to be more subtle) whilst sneering at those uncloaked by our ripping, clawing fingers. But what of those great destroyers* who hold their breath and deprive us of the fruits of inspired labour? Is courage loosed and confidence dissolved, or is it mere self-respect, respect for us?[* A trio of examples suffice: the harsh and self-censoring Edvard Grieg, Franz Kafka, and Claude Monet. In the case of Monet’s stinking water lilies, he might have been a tad harsher.]
He brushes teeth till blood is drawn –
Stows away carefully his walking shoes,
The tongues lick minds weary of travel.
His genius stands in the shower,
Washes future generations down the drain –
Revealing his pain, covering all in kepone,
Mine genius, caressing flesh from the bone,
Distorting the figure and his loneliness.
There are warts on these poetic hands of his,
Scars on his Madonna face.
Entropy is set in place.
“Art,” he says, “is just a process
Of extracting emotion through technique.
Lord, must we measure in terms of courage and pain?
Why return to dark houses with no fires burning,
No inspiration but dreariness of will?
Everything we learnt: matter burnt tomorrow is revered today,
Entailing fuels useless yesterday.”
On romantic impulse the artist manqué
Rewrites as art his troubled soul
And his retinue of stooges feed the vein lodged in his fat maroon heart.