Wednesday, January 28, 2015

No Fast Food Lane for Soul

“Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.”  ~ Thomas Merton

Real art cannot merely reflect the outer world; it must depict some part of the artist’s inner world, otherwise the work lacks depth or heart impact. 

“Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and the inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.”  ~ Edward Hopper


Heart of the Artist

Say you’re having guests over to your home for dinner – not just any guests – special guests. Would you dream of driving through Mickey D’s takeout for happy meals?

You’d sit down and take the time to plan and prepare a proper feast and serve your very best. So writers, think of your readers as special guests who are entering the heart of your inner world.



As Karen Blixen, author of Babette’s Feast and Other Anecdotes of Destiny puts it: 
“Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist:
Give me a chance to do my best. “ 

Speaking of Babette’s Feast, while the work is classified as a short story or novella, there is no shortage of meaning to be found in Blixen’s masterpiece: a powerful and poignant tale about sacrifice, communion, repentance, epiphany, and transformation.

I’ve heard it said that the protagonist, Babette Hersant, is an archetype of Christ, for she so readily sacrifices all that she has for those she is serving, and feeds not only their bodies, but their souls (as all artists/writers must do).

Discovery of Meaning

Not that Blixen, or any writer, consciously sets out to weave in layers of meaning, but if the work comes from a deeper place within, and isn’t just manufactured in the cerebral realm, it will likely contain multiple layers of meaning.

Take, for instance, Stephen King’s novella, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” from his story collection, Different Seasons. Within that one story runs concurrent themes: light overcomes darkness; perseverance against all odds; loyalty and friendship; bold defiance of evil…

Finding beauty in the midst of hell; hope springs eternal (which is the subtitle), and the list could go on. Therein lies the difference between mediocrity and art. If the work nourishes the reader’s soul, it has served its purpose.

And if you are to serve your purpose as artist (or saint), take your time. Let the work have space to incubate and fully develop, as a child matures in the womb. As a garden produces ripe fruit in its time.

Having begun with the words of Merton, I’ll end there too. “People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular – and too lazy to think of anything better.”

What lies within you?

What are your top three most inspiring stories or films, the ones that held the most transformative power for you? Take a moment to ponder why these stories moved you.


Then, choose just one of these (your # 1), and explain why it stirred or awakened you. Whatever you see there is only a mirror of what is already within you, waiting to be unveiled in some shape or form. 

19 comments:

  1. The vast majority of stories that moved me were ones I wrote. I mean, I was there, so there are points of reference. Having said that, show me one of your stories.

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    1. I’d like to read your stories, Michael. Where can I find them? Also, do you write fiction or nonfiction?

      Delete
  2. The vast majority of stories that moved me were ones I wrote. I mean, I was there, so there are points of reference. Having said that, show me one of your stories.

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    Replies
    1. You mean my personal stories? Here's a personal narrative.

      http://www.life.ca/naturallife/1102/gentle_art_of_birthing_at_home.htm

      Delete
  3. First:
    It's SOOOO good to see you back again. I've missed reading your blog.

    Wow, Debra:
    You've included so many of my favorite thoughts here:
    Shawshank Redemption:
    One of my favorite books/movies.
    We all have to go through some sh*t to get to the life we aspire. And man have I done that.
    http://www.cjpwisdomandlife.com/?s=shawshank

    And this line from your column today:
    if the work comes from a deeper place within, and isn’t just manufactured in the cerebral realm, it will likely contain multiple layers of meaning.

    I sincerely believe that I'm simply a conduit,
    http://www.cjpwisdomandlife.com/?s=conduit

    and that all of my writing, while I'm typing on the keys is not coming from me but from the Divine, from God.

    Ans Thomas Merton:
    He's a favorite of mine
    http://www.cjpwisdomandlife.com/?s=Thomas+Merton

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    Replies
    1. Good to hear from you, friend. I’m looking forward to checking out the links you posted here. Will get back with you after I read these. You ARE a divine conduit, Christopher, and I can tell by your writing.

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  4. Good morning sweet, Debra. This post is wonderful. You've reminded me that art, much like the pearl, comes from a place deep within, and that allowing your soul to speak is key to creating art that moves people.

    The last paragraph of, The Grapes of Wrath has stayed with me all these years. Steinbeck's honesty in writing, and bravery, was truly inspiring.

    Happy 2015, we are way overdue on our calls. <3

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    Replies
    1. Leah, I need to read that last paragraph from The Grapes of Wrath. Now you’ve got me curious. I love the overall story though.

      Here’s a quote in response to your comment here:

      Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;
      he, who would search for pearls, must dive below.
      ~ John Dryden

      I hope to talk soon. I have some things to tell you.

      Delete
  5. Spot on Debra. You and CJP - strum the strings of a wonderful instrument known as insight!

    Reminds me of the quote:
    "Wander around wonder for awhile to awaken wisdom within."

    In gratitude I bow to all who share their wit ripened by wisdom and compassion.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, that’s a good one: “Wonder around, wander for awhile to awaken wisdom within.” Since I’d never heard it I had to look it up, and found that Soul Dancer said it. Thank you, I’d never heard that one.

      Reminds me of a quote by J.R.R. Tolkien: “Not all those who wander all lost.”

      Thank you for the encouragement today. All the best in 2015!

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  6. Very inspiring, you have triggered me to look deeply within,reflect and with patience write .... thank you for sharing, for I am guilty sometimes of being in a hurry to post..

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    1. Genevive, most people nowadays are in a hurry. Just a symptom of the fast paced world in which we live. I’m so thankful you were inspired. What are you writing or creating these days?

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  7. My dearest Debra, my comment came so late but I'm glad I read your post before starting on a new major art project. How true that (in my case) conceptualizing an artwork should not be rushed!! Because my best work sprang forth when I did not pressure myself and just let ideas flow!

    Thank you for once again sharing the beauty of your words, dear lady! Take care always! God bless! :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Irene, my beautiful friend. May your work continue to bless others and bring joy and inspiration to many. Mwah! <3

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  8. **Real art cannot merely reflect the outer world; it must depict some part of the artist’s inner world***

    Yes.

    You know, I remember a line from Woody Allen's film, Interiors. One of the characters was sobbing and out of control...and she said, "Oh, God, What does one do, or feel, or survive without some kind of ART?"

    I love that!!!!! Fabulous Post!

    For me, it's words, books, Plath, Li, Oliver, Sexton, Gluck, Nabokov, Cheryl Strayed, Kafka....but I also LOVE fluffy, Elizabeth Berg.

    And Green.

    And YOU! xx

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    1. Kim, I like that quote “Oh, God, what does one do, or feel, or survive without some kind of ART.” I’m sure t you can relate to that, in light of all you’ve suffered. BTW, is the book out yet?

      I recently found a quote by Thomas Merton: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” I’d never thought of it that way, but believe there’s something to that statement.

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