The Artist’s Journey, #20
Only three more posts (including today’s) and this serialization of The Artist’s Journey will be complete. Thanks, everybody, for hanging in. I promise to get back to “regular” posts right away.
One last peep re Tim Grahl of www.booklaunch.com, whom I’ve been telling you about for the past couple of weeks. Tim, remember, reached out to Shawn out of the blue, saying, “If you’ll help me organize and shape my novel (that I haven’t written yet), I’ll help you with your marketing.” What happened to that novel? It’s proceeding furiously apace under Shawn’s guidance. In the meantime Tim wrote a different book, a super-personal account of his own agonizing hand-to-hand combat, not only with the blank page, but with being a responsible, loving husband and father. Does any of this sound familiar? As ethereal and airy-fairy as The Artist’s Journey can get, that’s how real-world, down-and-dirty Tim’s excruciatingly honest tale can be. The book is called Running Down a Dream. I can’t recommend it highly enough for all of us who live in the real world of trying to make the dream of becoming a writer come true. We’ll have Tim’s book available here and at www.blackirishbooks.com in the next couple of weeks.
Now back to the ethereal world—the final three installments of The Artist’s Journey. To catch up on any missed chapters, click here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8. Part 9. Part 10.Part 11. Part 12. Part 13. Part 14. Part 15. Part 16.Part 17. Part 18. Part 19.
95. BECAUSE THE ARTIST SHUTTLES BETWEEN WORLDS
The artist’s skill, we have said, is to shuttle between the conscious mind and the higher mind, the Divine Ground.
That’s her job.
It’s what she does every day.
For “conscious mind” read the alienation and exile of the human condition.
For “divine ground” read lost paradise, the Garden of Eden.
It is not an overstatement to declare that the artist’s role is to lead the human race back to Eden.
True, artists don’t know this. They don’t get up each morning with this enterprise in mind. In fact if you articulated this to them, they’d probably laugh in your face.
But they are the heralds and mentors of mankind’s hero’s journey nonetheless. Their charge is, as James Joyce phrased it in Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man
… to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of the race.
How do artists perform this service? By producing works whose fruit, for the reader or viewer, is empathy and compassion for the Other and, ultimately, identification with the Other.
The track that artists shuttle upon each day between the conventional world and the world of the higher mind is the same trolley line that the human race as a whole is seeking to board—the track from the narrow, fearful, divisive ego to the open, loving, inclusive Self.
96. WHO R U, PART TWO
The terminal thesis of this book is that the artist discovers who she is (and reveals this to the world) by the works she produces.
Our true “you” reveals itself over time by the fruits of our passages back and forth between World #1 and World #2.
The real “you” was always there, behind that door.
It was just waiting for you to knock and enter.
97. THE ARTIST AND THE GARDEN
The artist’s role is to complete the circle that started with Adam and Eve. Her charge is to lead us back to Eden, not in the state of unconsciousness and dependence in which we stood before the Fall, but in full awareness of ourselves and our station, our mortality, and of the greater world around and within us.
The artist’s role is to make the unconscious conscious.
She may not realize this. She may be blind to it. She may perform this task by instinct, not design. But she performs it just the same.
She is compelled by her nature.
She may work her entire life and never even realize she is doing this. But she is.
The Fall created the “multiplicity of forms” and dissevered the race from unity with the Divine Ground. The artist’s role is to shatter the illusion of separation and isolation and to blaze the trail back to the condition of Oneness, which state has always been mankind’s true condition but which we as individuals have been blinded to, immured as we are within the prison of our separate egos.
98. AN ORIGINAL CRIME (BUT A GREAT AND NOBLE ONE)
Christians believe in Original Sin. Jews cite in Genesis 6:5 and 8:21, the appearance within the human heart of the yetzer hara, “a turning toward evil” The ancient Greeks as well believed in a primal crime, which prompted the hero’s journey, as Homer declares of Odysseus …
… who, after he had plundered the innermost citadel of hallowed Troy, was made to stray grievously about the coasts of men …
When we speak of “the Call” that initiates the hero’s journey, it’s often an opportunity that suddenly appears, an imposed expulsion, an emergency that demands action. But not infrequently it’s a crime—a wrong committed, usually in ignorance or unconsciousness, by the hero. In the case above, Odysseus violates the sacred precinct of the goddess. In the Garden, Adam and Eve eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
A crime causes both protagonists to be “cast out.”
The human race’s crime is identifying with the ego. It’s Adam and Eve’s original sin and Odysseus’s and yours and mine.
But give our forebears some credit. Their crime was a great and noble one, a step toward divinity, a reaching for the stars.