Sunday, January 21, 2007

ghosts and understanding your art is not about you talking

somethings you see and somethings you feel
I've walked past the wall depicted in the image above many times in the last several months. I have no idea what left that mark. Some sort of banner must have got air pollution and auto exhaust behind it and now the building is blessed with a memory probably more intense than whatever the banner was commemorating or advertising.

Perhaps, of course, it should just be considered nothing. I could just keep walking and hardly notice that shadow on the wall than I notice any of the millions of other things I ignore everyday.

But mastery of course, is more than handling materials. Mastery is learning to inhabit the creature you are without dominating and silencing your weakest parts. A master knows that she will make mistakes and can anticipate them and learn to accommodate them, exploit weaknesses so that they come out as the most human parts of a given creation.

I think mastering life means looking into ghosts that haunt our walks from the subway, it means looking into cracks where cockroaches scurry and giving them full reign, at least for a while. No masterpiece is coming today from photography or paint but comes through the fully realized personality that is evident in such works. Which is to say, that mastering life is of course, more important than mastering paint and brushes and cameras. Mastering personality is like realizing the hair growing on a knuckle, with oil paint, in one swift and insignificant pass.

What we don't see in a discussion of great art, is that we expect great people now. Great leaders reject our definitions and our paradigms because they know that we, like they, are weak, collapsing, disintegrating under the weight of definitions we've outlived. It is more than enough to see at last, when all we have been doing is looking, and looking we have found always more despair than we could face.


  1. really great piece and nice photograph!

  2. Mastery is learning to inhabit the creature you are without dominating and silencing your weakest parts.

    Incredible. Thanks, James -

  3. Great post..and the photo of the smudge on the wall is gorgeous too...just like your feelings here.