Friday, June 11, 2010

Sentimental Education: Essays in Art

The visual arts have been at the center of my life from my earliest memories. My mother was a painter and she taught me to observe the world intently; she also conveyed the mysteries of the creative artist; a love of introspection; and an intelligence built on association. My father had a passion for classical literature and he taught me the importance of words, sentences, logic. He introduced thematic concerns. My own form of expression, I like to believe, is a combination of the two.

My sentimental education was not based on failed romances, or successful ones, for that matter. But my maturity to appreciate art. I believe visual art is born in the emotional realm, that it lives in emotion as a human being lives in the open air. A poet once said that art leaves the imprint of the artists emotions as she creates.

I hope these essays carry a sense of experimental wonder to whomever reads them; also a love of beautiful forms, and a sadness toward self-destruction. Because I am not a visual artist, I have the privilege of looking on, the privilege of an outsiders point of view. I admire painting, drawing, illustration, photography, architecture, even music, like a little boy mystified by a magic trick. Literature and writing, on the other hand, is a trick I wish to learn.

Art Essays



One Womans Thoughts said...

Lovely sentiments and tribute to your parents.

Lethe said...

Thank you :)

Zachary Adam Cohen said...

some serious essays here. will relish for a long time. you are a fine writer. keep going, push harder, read ashbery

Lethe said...

Thanks Zach, Ive read Ashbery ;)

Barkha said...

Wonderful posts. Your writings seem to be an exquisite combination of your parents talents. Reading some of your essays gives me an impression of your colorful narrative style and the sundry of emotions inside.
Barkha Dhar

Zen said...


# On art & framing context

I agree with you - art is not the invention of an object. Art is the expression that captures the perception of the artist towards that object at that moment. In doing so, the work is imbued with the artists life state. Such work leaves us in awe because the clearer the expression, the better it is for us to EXPERIENCE that life state. In doing so, great work of art can inspires.

# Originality of work

Yes, artist who chase after fame can lose originality in his work. He forgets that fame is a byproduct of good art. And good art stems from originality.


"My immediate emotion after watching the film was sadness.
How is it that a certain narrative comes to define a persons life?"

This is the nature of all phenomena.
From thought comes intent.
From intent, action.
From action, interaction.
From interaction, causes are made.
From causes, effect/impact on the world.

Our life is our ultimate work of art. That Basquiats life inspires sadness is proof that his mind works in that plane. It is very sad indeed because it is unnecessarily so.

# Success, Fame and the price you pay.

"Success breeds disappointment" - I disagree with this. I think we are not disappointed by our failure, but rather by our expectation to succeed being unfulfilled.

Basquiat aspires to be famous. He works his ass off to be famous. He expect that if he does so, fame will follow. And if fame arrives, happiness to, will. But what if success didnt come as he wish it to be? What if he is not famous? Well, in this case, he does, but at what cost?

People who base their happiness and "success" on how many of these expectation will materialize will live very unhappy life. It is such a dangerous and subtle trap. it is like having a hole in your attic. From this hole came one mouse to steal your food. And from where one came, many will follow.

Fame. Isolation. Impact on ones character, beliefs and mindset.

We wish for fame and success. We expect it will bring us happiness. But can we handle it?


Those who yearn for fame and success,
believing it will bring them happiness
is like an unlit candle who yearn to be
the warmth and illumination in a cold dark room.

Warmth and illumination
are simply by-products of FIRE.
When the fire is alight,
warmth and illumination will follow.

This is the law of cause and effect.
It is very simply, common sense.
Focus on the cause, not on the effect.
and light the fire within.

In this way, come what may,
success or no success,
fame or no fame,

the artist will retain his beauty.
the work will retain his originality.
and his life, his ultimate work of art,
will be sublime.

Zen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zen said...

Lethe, I wrote and wrote my response and I cant fit it into this comment box.

So here it is:

( just respond here so focus is retained )

Take care,

Zen said...

It just so happen that I am going to the temple tomorrow for chanting & meditation. I will miss our conversation, and I will chant the sutra for you.

Good bye,

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