THE SPARK OF ART
Knowing brings sorrow. Grieving is being human. Hail to those who are in quest and sad.
By Nevin Ulusoy
Writing, painting or making sculptures, composing songs, directing films. Why does a person do these things? What makes a person stay in front of a white sheet of paper or the light that is reflected by the screen of a computer through the nights, consume his/her life behind the cameras? The instinct that makes Knut Hamsun go hungry, but stops him from doing something else, Van Gogh sweat in front of canvases all the time even though he could not sell even a picture? Making a new work by racking your brain, struggling until your hands bleed, fighting, kneading yourself with pain and maybe not being known, understood at all. Is it the enthusiasm for fame, being fond of adventures, obsession for being different? The tortures that have been lived through, maybe they will never end. Why would a life full of suffering be preferred instead of coming home from work in the evening, doing the things that will give pleasure with that is earned?
The hero of W. Somerset Maugham’s novel “The Moon and Sixpence”, which is based on Paul Gauguin’s life, is an artist who paints pictures all the time almost eating and drinking nothing, is not even interested in selling his pictures. A man who leaves his wife and two children at the age of forty. A madman who has left behind his money and all his comfort saying he only has to paint, laughs at people who claims that he cannot paint and goes on painting, goes on day and night. Maugham writes that it was as if he was possessed by the devil, an evil spirit, a passion for painting that has captured him. He does not want others to see his pictures much, either; the narrator, as a young writer, tells him that he would not want to write things he knew nobody would read. The artist does not care, the passion inside him burns in flames, his whole being is in sparks. The light of the fire is reflected from his eyes, illuminates his hollow cheeks. The main character in Jack London’s “Martin Eden” changes his whole life to write. He spends all the money he earns out of working at ships, he educates himself, he puts up with hunger, suffering, there are always heart-breaking words, harsh criticism, sneers, as it happens with all artists. It is as if he follows Virginia Woolf’s advice, he writes and writes. The characters in novels are almost the same as in real life in a way, the artists are not even interested in themselves.
The necessity to tell stories, with the pen, the brush, the camera or the hammer. The dreams turn to shapes that can be touched by hands, as if dreams of night come to life, at some lonely and desolate places inside.
Jim Morrison, the singer of the band “The Doors”, when he can easily go home after his graduation of university, his fire inside does not make him sleep at night on a rooftop, makes him write poems and lyrics all alone, half hungry, watch the sea and the moon all through the nights, the muses whispers his fire all the time. Heinrich Böll mentions a piece of writing of his he took to an editor in his book called “The Rose and the Dynamite”. The editor asks him the holy question we ask in this article, why he writes and says that almost everyone who brings pieces of writings think he/she are worth better jobs than the one he/she has and that is why they write. Böll tells him that he likes his job but he cannot stop writing, his attitude shows he is helpless, he writes because he cannot help it. The editor is very impressed by his answer. Being helpless, yes, a lot of writers say they would go mad if they did not write. You can go mad by writing as well, by painting, there are so many examples of it. Sylvia Plath wrote her best poems when she was the most depressed. We can say the same things for the unique poems and writings of Nilgün Marmara, a Turkish poet who committed suicide like Sylvia Plath. It is said that even her doctor advised her to stop writing and reading. The artist cannot give up producing even if he/she knows he/she will go mad. He/she cannot sleep, the words inside want to be written, the characters inside the head wait to emerge with the colour of reality, the canvas begs to be filled, the brain is full of words, shapes, notes and colours, they never cease talking, their existence want to be seen. The necessity to tell stories, with the pen, the brush, the camera or the hammer. The dreams turn to shapes that can be touched by hands, as if dreams of night come to life, at some lonely and desolate places inside. The desire to get rid of struggling in pain or falling off by struggling. Being understood does not interest the artist, he/she lives in his own world he/she makes out of letters, tones, sounds. Neither clothes, nor food, the artist breathes with these trials. An insanity all alone.
The artist does not care, the passion inside him burns in flames, his whole being is in sparks.
This fire begins when you are older sometimes. It is always there actually, but the rush, the fast beat of life or an ongoing situation of sweet peace prevents you feeling the pressure of the blaze. Your ways of always telling stories in your childhood find you again, having them in your mind like a game. As soon as it finds a small hole, the spark that has been waiting for years embraces the whole being madly. The pen cannot catch the words, the brush is tired by the mad strokes, the piano keys are drunk with the never-ending waves of notes. Those who are addicted to ordinariness find these manners, this kind of living dangerous, they try to bring you to reason. They mention the meaninglessness of the waves and strokes, they are objects of ridicule, how can you behave that way in the war of life? The artist leaves the music of waves for an instant, wants to look in the eyes of the person who claims that he/she is the common sense, cannot see, there is only darkness, then dives in the music again all along.
Is the artist’s trial like Sisyphos’s, the struggle to carry that rock to the top of the hill, knowing it will fall down again? The strange peace that is given by the trial of living with the absurdities of life. Is this trial a war with the monotonies that encompass our life islands, the fog of habits that smother us? The eyes are open to unnoticed beauties, fast to see the sadness behind the beauties. Like Shelley who says that winter is the forerunner of spring. Can all those struggles be explained by the enthusiasm of immortality and fame? Maybe they will never be had, no,no, how can the camera tell, the words be shaped? The brushes cannot find the paint, the silent screams cannot go through the beams of light. If what is done is not the aim of itself, what is told floats in space. The aim is not to give meaning to the action of breathing, but it is the result. It is all for the people who want their lives to be meaningful, who fight for it of course. Do people want meaning in their lives? If the real quest is for stomaches, will the full warehouses,cellars satisfy people? Patti Smith’s cabbage soup will be enough for the hungry as well. The people are in quest for the infinity, whether they know it or not. Knowing brings sorrow. Grieving is being human. Hail to those who are in quest and sad.