“…let him assimilate whatever he finds highest…so that he can use it…fervently, transcendentally, inevitably, furiously”
-Essays before a Sonata, Charles Ives
Is there any better expression of what the practice of art should be? Fervent, transcendent, inevitable, furious. Or a better expression of what we poor people who try to practice art aspire to?
And at the same time: is there any better expression of the frustration that lies within the ideal, the sadness? Fury softens. Transcendence is set aside. The fervor of wanting becomes the routine of performance. The inevitable slips into inevitability.
The fervent, transcendent, inevitable, furious search for what is yours and how to make it, speak it, show it, slips out of your hands and is no longer to be found. You keep making, because making is what you do, but the certitude, the necessity, the inevitability of it is lost to you. How that could possibly have happened is a mystery. You remember that you had it, but forget what it felt like. This can be called real life, or maturity, or age. But it is none of those. It should be called a tragedy.
The loss of conviction stings the hardest. It dulls everything, makes a level playing field of what used to be ridges, massed humps, cracks and crevices. It is difficult to allow yourself to try and make something, but losing the conviction that something has to be made is infinitely bitter.
An eternity passes in which the whole world seems hardened, stale, unmutable. You get used to it. There are other joys to be found here. And then change comes.
The tide is particularly strong one day or the traffic particularly muted. The wind blows from the southwest or the northwest or the southsoutheast. Suddenly you recognise another person’s conviction and joy and take pleasure in it.
The sun comes out and the leaves sing. The sun departs and winter’s grey settles in. An impulse comes from an obscure place and sinks its beastly little hooks into some deep part of you. And wanting - fervently, transcendentally, inevitably, furiously - makes its self known again and you are riven, jolted by it.
This is waking up.