With the passing of Ray Bradbury this week the list of the most influential writers of my youth, still left alive, has grown short. It’s hard to believe Isaac Asimov has been gone 20 years. Arthur C. Clark 4 years and Robert A. Heinlein 24. When I think back and reflect on all the long adolescent weekends and dark nights I spent enthralled with the tales of wonder and possibility these men, and others, painted on the inside of my damp skull, like frescos on the walls of a newly constructed chapel, I must thank them and thank my luck for the crossing of our paths.
Ray Bradbury wrote many wonderful things, but, today I am struck with a little bit of wisdom he kind of swiped from Nietzsche when he wrote… “We have our Arts so we don’t die of Truth”.
If you are just hanging around today, not doing much, you should probably reflect on that. How, in the end, ART is such a BIG word. How it underlies and properly defines not only all of mankind’s greatest achievements and triumphs, but, curiously enough, remains such a Terra Incognita to so many humans in spite of the fact that it is foundational to so much of what it means to be human.
Isn’t that curious? What are those of us who paint, collage, sculpt, string beads, create gardens, play music and dance our way through life and around its pitfalls and roadblocks supposed to make of this gaggle of Harvard and Yale graduates who would call themselves our leaders today? These self promoting deal makers whose egos and limitless greed, in the end, create nothing but ugliness and artLESSness. These masters of the financial universe who purchase million dollar artworks for their weekend homes with one hand and cut funding to teach art to children with the other. Who are these people? Are they artists too, but, of some darkest of the dark arts kind where promotion of themselves at any price, for power alone, IS their performance… is their art?
Kurt Vonnegut used to have an all encompassing name for the Harvards, Yales and Princetons of our world. They were all “Plantation Owners Tech”. They still are famous for teaching the acquisition and maintenance of large amounts of money and power. They are, in the end, their own particular “kind” of Art School. The art-form they teach is Bullshit and the High Art of mistaking money for happiness and power as an antidote to ever having to honestly self reflect. The darkest of the dark arts indeed.
You know, if we as a species had any sense at all we wouldn’t ever have Presidential Primaries and debates. We wouldn’t be dumb enough to give such buffoons one minute of air time. Instead, we would have Art Shows! We would test the worth of our future leaders by observing and experiencing THEIR WORK! We would taste their fruit and walk in the gardens they dug and weeded with their own hands and by so doing we would all become enriched…. instead of befuddled, impoverished and ashamed of what we have allowed ourselves to become.
In Rays memory and in respect for ALL the starving, but blissfully engaged, artists out there, living and dead, make some art today. Make an art of your life! Fry an egg in an artful way. Wash your dishes as if you were painting the Sistine Chapel. Open yourself to what it is to be human and let the art that is in you come out to play. Don’t have one care for what others may think of you, or, how they may judge you. You are not here for them. You cannot understand these things for them if they don’t understand them themselves, as you do, like a screaming in your bones.
Goodnight Ray and Isaac, Robert & Arthur, Picasso & Vincent van, Andy & Jackson P. and those guys dressed in animal skins who did those great horses and bulls on the cave walls…. and thanks.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche