Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Little Clay, Much Philosophy


I have been carrying Life of Pi by Yann Martel around for over a year now, hoping to read while in waiting rooms and sitting in car line to pick the kids up from school. Instead I always end up chatting with someone or spotting a magazine that begs reading. I finally got a chance to start it and Life of Pi has my wheels turning. This quote about a developing friendship with an atheist professor made me stop and reread it several times:
I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap.

I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We all must pass through the garden at Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted with doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
My mind has hardly stopped chewing on this for two days. I have always felt there has to be room for the doubter - that true faith has to ask to hard, niggling questions and find a satisfactory answer. I believe that we learn and grow by questioning, but you have to seek and find the answers to those questions. In choosing doubt as a philosophy of life, you essentially choose to not seek answers.

Religion and faith of all kinds intrigue me, but also what really struck me was the idea of the artist choosing doubt. This is the artist who links the value of their art with the number of sales. This is the artist who spends their days at the easel yet turns their paintings to the wall when company arrives.

Is my art valuable because someone wants to buy it? Or, is it valuable because I feel compelled to create it? If no one else loves what I make, should that cause me to stop creating? I believe the satisfaction to my spiritual need to create is in seeing my vision fulfilled, not in seeing cash exchanged for that small reflection of my soul.

We are driven to create. Whether we show in upscale galleries or hide our work in closets, the need to see our visions come to life is ingrained. The desire to create is instilled in us at our creation, when we are made in the image of the Creator - the greatest of all artists. My work... your work.... it is valuable because it is love. It is a sharing of the secret places in our souls and that is more valuable than money, prestige, or fame.

9 comments:

april said...

I read Life of Pi a few years ago and LOVED it. It's filled with a great story and intriguing ideas throughout.

The end will blow your mind!!!!

Ant said...

Wonderful thoughts! Thanks for sharing them!

JUDI TAVILL said...

Well.. I have the book... my husband read it... so I have pulled it out. Currently reading A New Earth- Eckart Tolle...But in response to your comments...
I really think it is interesting how you tied the "Artist's Doubt" into it. I am Jewish... we are are raising our family as Jewish... Hebrew School, Bar Mitzvah, Synagogue, the holidays.... but SPIRITUALLY.... I feel I have my own interpretation of things... I truly believe there is a greater ENERGY....I call it G-d. I think the Bible, Torah all of the stories and laws are relevant to or lives, human nature, life lessons, etc... I do not discount them. I do believe that organized religion really stems from the need to organize an other wise uncontrolled society and believe that a lot of the laws were necessary at the time of their development and now they are more of an homage to ancestors and an interest in Tradition. I strongly believe in all of us having a soul at the pit of our being a spark of that greater ENERGY and it is that soul that will live on... possibly in another being when our human bodies are no longer functioning....

I don't know why I feel the need to tell you all of this Lisa but...I really appreciate the idea that our NEED to make art is so close to spirituality and I just wanted to let you know.

Tara Robertson said...

I've never read the Life of Pi--I can see I need to pick it up. Thank-you so much for sharing your thoughts. I really like the way you tied your art into philosophy. The two are so connected.

MAKUstudio said...

Well put Lisa! There is such a connection between art an religion. Very spiritual indeed!

Ellen said...

I agree that we are driven to create because we are made in the image of Creator God. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I need to hear them over and over, because I tend to measure my self worth by how others perceive me, and my work is a big part of that measuring tool.

Jenny said...

Thanks for the insight. I have never heard of it, so I'm going to go check it out!!

Wonderfully written blog too!

Cynthia said...

I enjoyed Life of Pi, immensely when I read it a few years ago too.

On being agnostic - I've identified myself as such for awhile, but you're right, it's a quest that I've not chosen to take yet in either direction.

On making art- an energy goes behind the making and that is valid. To deny that is to deny yourself.

Creating Through LIFE said...

Well said! I couldn't agree more about why we are driven to create.