Art as a collaboration with the Divine.
I've seen it described as the astral realm, the great arcanum, the creative stream of energy flowing from the creator, we tap into with our imagination. Some imaginations are more adept than others. Some are just plain ugly, Some are downright evil. All of it is there to sample from.
The greatest artists then use intention and will to create art out of the ineffable, to manifest creation. Life then is an artwork, and if treated as such, the likelihood your art will have an impact is greater. Recognizing the universe as divine then, should make for better art, longer lasting.
So yeah, policing the speech of others is by def evil.
So many great insights here. I might add that a certain amount of stamina, both in practice and in research/thinking, is also conducive to summoning a good wingman. Steven Pressfield had hammered that point home too in his "War of Art". But the most important as you said are pure intentions, and seeing these sorts of things as gifts: we are never entitled to them and can never force them or even expect them. But if they come, we are not supposed to stand in the way, and must sustain the flow.
What a wonderful essay, Mark - and a much-needed topic that goes ignored or rarely considered. There's so much to unpack here, but I'll try. As a fellow artist (graphic designer but also a writer and musician,) my life has been forged by the creative impulse. There's an ineffable source from which great art springs from. I realize both 'great' and 'art' are highly subjective and personal, but for the sake of this comment and in alignment with your essay, let's agree that divinely inspired art defines greatness.
It's that unknowable mystery, the divine spark that not only ignites creativity but guides it. You can tell immediately whether an artwork has it or not. 99.9% of modern art does not. That's a sweeping dictum, but there you have it. Which is why we return to the masters, like de Messina and her divine rendition with that presence out of frame, but more than that, the subtext of her painting, the gift, the presence not only of Gabriel but of God.
AI artwork is utterly devoid of it. It's just sourcing an aggregate of massive data in a particular style algorithm and excreting a pictorial form that mirrors the madness of the human mind that created it. And symbolically, our collective madness, the madness we witnessed over the past three years that's getting louder.
I would rebrand AI as Automated Information, not Artificial Intelligence as it has none.
Divine essence, that sense of the sublime, can be found in any art form. One of the most profound examples in the medium of film is Baraka, a non-verbal 70mm cinematic masterpiece of visuals and music. Recommended, if you haven't seen it.
The divine, in whatever shape or form, cannot be measured, quantified, comprehended, bought or sold - but it can be felt and experienced. This confounds the bureaucrats, the mechanistic transhumanists, scientists, and whoever else you want to add. The fact of a human being open to the divine is also motivated by it in his or her actions is threatening to anyone stuck in measurement or control, such as government and all the soulless distortions we see playing out today.
A divinely connected and motivated humanity, creating, building, living and loving together, is our way forward.
Three cheers for this, Mark. Insightful and timely. I was recently meditating on the concept of Jesus as friend. To my Catholic sensibility it sounds cringe. "Jesus is my best buddy!" My instinct is to flee in the direction of the nearest Traditional Latin Mass. However, Jesus Himself said that he calls us friends (John 15:15). So how should I interpret this? I started thinking about what I value in my relationships with friends. It is working on something together. When you have a good friend, you have a joint project with them and collaborate on it, or else discuss the separate but similar projects that you both have ongoing. Right? Boom. I need to collaborate with Jesus on my projects, and work on them together with Him. That's how my friendship with Him can develop. I'm just a pulp sci-fi writer, but I don't think He scorns pulp sci-fi--after all He spent much of His earthly life building good and useful things for ordinary Nazareans! And though I say it, sci-fi can be good and useful too.
Another insightful essay. Thank you. Like every other aspect of life, there was a foulness unleashed into art, with the intent to degrade and besmirch what was given to elevate and uplift. It surely must debase the souls of so-called artists who create monstrosities like that 3 portraits piece you shared. Nightmare fuel!
Also another black mark against AI art. It has no soul, so it is soulless and therefore no matter how technically perfect it is, it isn’t art.
I love your thought and work. This especially rings true to me, “In fact this model of mind creates more holes than it repairs, which evil people will then fill with their perverse ideologies and toxic drugs.” That is spot on! Ironically, paradoxically and as-of-yet unresolved, I become more and more convinced that these screens that we use to communicate these ideas are the fundamental altars of an alchemical spiritual process that we do not understand. Whether you are a reductionist-atheist of a believer in the Divine source of creation (as I am) it seems more and more self-evident that the cost benefit analysis to the formation of thought, perception, metaphor or just time spent on these screens is most assuredly negative. I don’t know how to resolve this conundrum as I am an addict of the “toxic drug” of the screen just like all of us here. Being a Luddite, or at least Amish seems more and more like the logical reaction to the chaos of the modern age. I’m not sure it is in my perceptual power to balance out the misdirection of thought that is inherent in this epistemic technological revolution.
You do know that Caravaggio was a raving homosexual and murderer. How do you explain him producing beautiful paintings; that told stories, etc? While I commend your desire for sane art I think you and Megha are confusing inspiration with an artist's ability to do things they aren't really tied to emotionally. Mainly, because they need money and like being famous like everyone else.
Aaron Copeland made the most authentic "American" music of the 20th century. He scored Martha Graham ballets like Appalachian Spring; Billy the Kid, ballet; The Tender Land, opera; The Red Pony, suite for orchestra; you get the picture. He was of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, homosexual, and I doubt traveled west of the Hudson River.
“During these years I began to feel an increasing dissatisfaction with the relations of the music-loving public and the living composer. It seemed to me that we composers were in danger of working in a vacuum.”
Artists cannot work in a vacuum. They need money (patrons) and some kind of recognition. You two need to back off with the romantic crescendos about artists already. Watch Art School Confidential, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364955/. It's a bit simple-minded but is far closer to reality than your blustering schtick on the sainted artist with the wind-swept hair. Give me a break. LOL.
Your problem Mark was that the god you fed was a demon. That's the way it works sometimes. You let a demon into your soul. I hate to say it but sometimes the worst part of a person may be the most interesting. I can tell you that simply by exorcizing demons isn't going to make a person a good artist. You may become a better person, certainly, but not a better artist.
This was an interesting read. Are you talking exclusively about visual art or do these ideas extend to things like poetry and music?