Art is useless...unless it makes you an artist

I have long believed that my work is useless.


Useless unless its beauty crawls beneath your own sight, hatching new seeds of seeing. Useless unless you can speak the words like incantations, changing the texture of your proximate space. Useless unless you are infected with a life so big it beautifies all you see and do. Useless unless it makes you an artist, too.


Making art is always secondary to the life of the artist. The dancer moves like water through the world, each gesture the line of a kinetic poem. The poet looks sharply and speaks slowly, weighing words. The painter pays attention to the waves within, watches the light without. Etc. etc. The work is a maybe. The life is a necessity.


You don't have to make art, but you must become an artist. The earth needs humans who belong to her fully, which is precisely the heart of the artist's role.


Or, in Rainer Maria Rilke's words:


Archaic Torso of Apollo We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.


Faced with the statue like a living creature, your own lusterless being stares back at you, awe and regret rippling down the spine simultaneously.


You must change your life.

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