A Visit to The National Gallery of Art

entry – sophistry personified

I have come to think, as I continue my journey more bereft of companions than ever before, that I have become more of an idea than a person. I am immaterial. I am like a vision someone has when they are young, before they realize they prefer the immediate fulfillment of reality. Shakespeare’s famous lines only serve to reinforce this:  “True, I talk of dreams,. Which are the children of an idle brain,. Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,. Which is as thin of substance as the air…” What are words, when you have since subsisted on action and immediacy? Words can be mobilized to the extent that they are affirmed by action. The sociologist Mircea Eliade spoke of the transition of objects from the sphere of the prosaic to the numinous; the sacred and the profane. For myself, it has been a reversal of fortune. Everything sacred or remarkable about me has faded like dry chili. Perhaps I am only special insofar as honesty is rare… But I am not even that honest. Relationships are messy, they are complicated — but this unpredictability is what makes film great, what makes a story great. This is not idealism, this is truth.

It is possible that this continued introspection is just the result of having been alone with my thoughts for a very long time. It has been a while since I’ve been immersed in the chaos of community. Like Leopold Bloom in Ulysses, the thoughts simply collect and collect with no particular purpose but to sit and stew. This lack of drama has allowed me to pick at all the scabs in my personality, for better or worse. These feelings arise in part, from a desire to be affirmed. What am I doing now, in writing this and revealing it to the world, but asking for the anonymous affirmation of my insecurities? “I have nothing else to offer you but my own unhappiness. Please say that it, at least, measures up, that it is a proper sort of unhappiness,” writes Walker Percy.

At my very core, I know that I cannot change who I am. I will always have a penchant for the abstract, the numinous. This is alright — it can’t be helped. Besides, I think there are far worse things than reflecting on the meaning of one’s actions and what one can do to improve them. In Bellow’s Herzog he writes that “…People of powerful imagination given to dreaming deeply and to raising up marvelous and self-sufficient fictions, turn to suffering sometimes to cut into their bliss, as people pinch themselves to feel awake… a more extended form of life, a striving for true wakefulness and an antidote to illusion.” We artists have a sort of creator soul; we are constantly absorbing beauty and caught in this permanent state of wonder, powering an urge to transmit everything we see to the public and the world. Yet when you are constantly experiencing such feelings of effervescence, there is also a yearning for a sort of human channel via which you can transmit your art, one wherein it will be reflected in order for it to be fulfilled.

Everything is a just a preface to some great Love.

 

“To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating hearts, they must learn to love. But learning time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is — solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves. Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate–?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon, him something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.”

Like most other impractical visionaries who subsist on metaphysical poetry and acoustic music, sometimes I feel like I spend my entire existence running away. I say I detest the absolution of responsibility, a culture that refuses to take the blows for its actions, but I do just that. I wonder if I will ever catch up, or if I will continue to make it simple for myself by letting go. However, that is the great lie of “letting go” — it masquerades as the easy thing to do, because all it seems to demand is the relinquishing of one’s hold, but in reality it is the planting of a root of remorse. You create ghosts of the things you wish you had done, the people you have let down. Writers recycle their regret by transforming it into stories, littered with the people they’ve abandoned. It is such a cop-out, but its a way of evading blame while simultaneously creating art. Art is the sum of our mistakes as much as it is a means of expression, for what to people desire to express most commonly other than mistakes, or circumstances that have arisen from them?