Thursday, April 05, 2007

Make art/Live art...

Above the door to his studio, author William Styron posted a quotation from Gustave Flaubert:

“Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

As much as I can truly relate to this idea, I also find it repellent. It reminds me of some bogus quality that runs rampant in art. The fundamental disconnect between thought and action. Poets writing revolutionary couplets in their ivory towers, who wouldn't dare pick up a gun or a protest sign. Painters who paint scandalous images, and lead perfect bourgeois lifestyles.

True, an argument can be made that it is the artists role to pose questions, to provoke emotion, to hold up a mirror, to mock, to pursue whim, and so on - but NOT to engage in the real world. Proust said he had to renounce the real world in order to write. Like I say, I can relate. Perhaps it's childish, but I find myself curiously drawn to those who refuse to compartmentalize. Those who live and die by their own visions and proclamations. Who live their art.

William Styron was a great author. His last book, Darkness Visible, an autobiography of sorts, shows that he was no Southern gentleman debating over which seersucker jacket to wear. But as he aged, he did exile himself to his work and his depression. One wonders what Salvador Dali or GG Allin or Bjork or Ghandi or (insert your own, better examples of people whose irregularity and disorderliness and violence and originality are overt and sublime) would have said to him had they chanced upon him holed up in his studio.

(Photo by Martin Kovalik)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flaubert is a noxious character whose recipe of "hate and good sentences" is responsible for plenty of awful writing that's alive and well and respected as great today. A better example is Fernando Pessoa, who saw the imagination as simply another part of life and the front on which he could do the most good. A snippet of his might go well over our chipboard doors: "Everything is what we are, and everything will be for those who follow us in the diversity of time in accordance with how intensely we imagined it, that is, how intensely we had put it in our bodies with our imagination and really been it."

12:44 PM  

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