Dear Stephen, thank you very much for your kind invitation and introduction.
I look forward to developing new links to larger community which our little Mythblasts make possible. As an artist and thinker, I am always thrilled by the chance to engage my thought on the topic of art and the artist. In my contribution this week I begin to touch upon the profound existential commitment that such a life entails, which does involve a kind of descent ad inferos, an embrace of negativity out of the dark roots of passion, which alone will propel our creativity to its greatest heights.
Nevertheless, I do reject the stereotype of the “tortured artist” in the same way we must reject all stereotypes across the board, including the complimentary stereotype, that of the hedonist artist for whom art is only a means for narcissistic gratification, a conduit for sexual exploits, or what in California we mildly call “self-exploration.” In both stereotypes, we are dealing with a rigid, reductive image of the complexity of love as it finds its expression in artistic creativity. For whatever we want to say about the passion of creative being, it becomes indistinguishable from what we might say about the paradoxes of love.
How many “tortured” lovers are out there through no fault of their own? How many who have found bliss in the pleasures of romantic love only to discover that it takes something more than pleasure to make love work?
In the same way, whenever we speak of the language of love, to be sure, we are always taking a risk as we put ourselves out there, vulnerable and exposed, caught in a dire moment of real uncertainty. This is what it means to take a leap of faith into the unknown. In the end, as every lover knows, you don’t have a choice but to surrender to the process for better or worse. You can hope for the best, of course, but hope will not be enough to sustain— or even to begin this journey. Unless it’s the kind of “fool’s hope”—a hopeless hope— which Gandalf talks about in The Lord of the Rings. And although this is hard to realize, it is also a sign that you are on the authentic path of the Hero’s journey.