6/29/20: Simple Elements of Art #poetry


6/29/20: Simple Elements of Art #poetry

A biographer of James Baldwin says that Baldwin wrote with moral outrage and love

I think I do that too

I think all artists do that

Comparisons between artists are useless

Looking at what is essential to all of their work is what matters

in consideration of what is elemental in art

Moral outrage from a place of love is a simple element of any art

Art paradoxically is detached and take sides

Being detached while taking sides is a simple element of art

The artist looks at “what is” with innocent honesty

and advocates for the higher potentials inherent in what is

An artist has nothing to work with besides him or her self

and his or her perspective on the outer world

The depth and complexity of what the artist sees and feels

determines the craft and form of the art

Arts “education” that emphasizes craft and form first encourages superficiality and conformity

Aesthetics are unimportant in art

As the poet says truth is beauty

The degree of truth in art is equal to the degree of beauty

Genre is unimportant in art

Classification of forms of art is an after-the-fact academic exercise

much as an obituary defines a person after he or she is dead

Art is created by the interaction of the spontaneous and the structured

Jazz and classical music meet

Improvisation fills the space of art

rationality steps in and brings organization

Sometimes the artist starts with a blank campus and an impulse

Sometimes he or she starts with an elaborate architectural structure

Always the interaction between the two hemispheres of the human mind

leads to the final form and content

Art is more than performance

Art is more than self-expression

Art is simply the pursuit of consciousness of the nature of reality and truth

and communicating the documentation of that journey.

The artist must contain him or her self

Sequestering him or her self from all people and influences who would distract him or her from his or her artistic orientation

Art is not an opinion

Art, like science, should be revered

Art is what an artist DOES

An artist is NOT art itself

Therefore an artist actually loses him or her self in the act of creating art

Everything petty and small in the artist is transcended

when he or she creates

The artist touches the highest potentialities of mankind

like an astronaut, the artist sees and communicates about places man has never been

and then eventually returns to current circumstance with everyone else

The artist lays out the challenge

a marker

of what we can work to be

Without art, man descends to his animal nature

only concerned with survival

Ignoring the higher aspects of being alive

An individual artist can never impart the absolute truth

An individual can never have that omniscient perspective

An individual artist points to the truth

An artist points

When artists work collectively

they never work from one shared perspective

they share a common focus

not a common point of view

and then they harmonize their points of view

each artist educating his or her collaborators on their unique perspective

a costume designer opens up a new view of a character for an actor

a composer reveals new themes in a film for a director

and so on

An artist is always open to influence

An artist can’t work at all when closed off from the world

and at the same time is completely unmoved by others on questions of what is real and true

This is a very subtle distinction

an artist always listens

but never listens to

Often an artist is driven by the desire to remove the pain resulting from his or her personal ignorance

Each achieved level of enlightenment brings an easing calm

In this way, art is transformative

Everyone is not an artist

but everyone feels that pain of personal ignorance

What distinguishes an artist from his or her audience is simply the ability to research and communicate the reality and the truth

The ability to understand and experience reality and the truth belongs to all human beings

So the artist is in that sense nothing special

He or she just has a job to do

to chart what experience and nature teaches us all

if we listen and pay attention

and challenge ourselves to go further and further

not to solve mysteries

but to more fully participate in those mysteries.

When people are informed by art

they participate in work and the other activities of life in new and more complete ways

The formerly mundane takes on meaning

Art provides all that education promised to us but failed to deliver

Art liberates

and gives us direction

in our eternally new found


Independent particular unique reflecting and participating in the All

Atoms are solar systems

The cells of our bodies organize themselves into galaxies

Each point in an infinite field is the center

Deeper and broader

than linear time and locality allow us to see

beyond occasional glimpses of ecstatic epiphany.

The artist has to know that he or she is an artist

and then simply not worry about it.

When the artist consistently and persistently engages in the process

his or her efforts

will be necessary and worthy.

That which seems most abstract

and away from the exercise of power

is what determines the fate of the world.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas









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