THE DESTINY OF THE ARTIST
By Nevin Ulusoy
“TONIO KRÖGER” – THE DESTINY OF THE ARTIST
The artist, the person who lives with the muses, the being of joy and sorrow. The artist has a keen eye for what goes on, the interpreter of the inner worlds, hidden from the senses. The artist, having his five senses for the far and beyond, bringing them before our senses, to reach an unknown world. The ordinary is his work of art, having it in her/his palms, not grasping or being influenced by it, to give it a meaning beyond its conception. The pen, the camera or the paint is the artist’s tools to make a new world, for the senses beyond what we can hold, giving herself/himself and us an immeasurable pleasure and pain, a mixture of both usually.
The sparkle that catches the glittering of the stars, beyond time as we know it, the tints beyond the rainbow makes our little blue worlds a place worth to live.
Thomas Mann, the great German writer of fascinating novels, one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, deals with the artist’s mode of living away from the ordinary in his brilliant novel “Tonio Kröger.” Mann usually wrote about the corruption of the bourgeois. He was mainly influenced by Goethe, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. He took the Nobel prize in 1929. Tonio is a writer like himself and starting from his childhood, he suffers from a lack of being like all the other people and meeting the demands of the society. He feels the pain of it keenly, sees his difference as a source of pain. Mann expresses these feelings in his clear, mesmerising sentences, words in a unique way, we want to read them again and again. We feel Tonio’s emotions deep in our hearts.
The artist’s disability to lead a “normal”, an ordinary life. Not being able to dance, talk or laugh like the others. It is like a curse, an inevitable fate for the artist, he cannot escape it even if he wants to. The gift she/he is given does not leave her/him alone, demands its priority. His friend, Adalbert, says that spring is a bad time, that one cannot work well because of all the feelings spring inspires in one. In his early years, he had a good friend who he strongly envied, because he was so gifted in everything he did, people liked being with him, he danced very well whereas he could not dance at all and was really sad about it. He read a lot and suggested books to his friend. He liked a girl, wanted to impress her so much, but he was not good at the things the world demanded him to be. After being a writer as well he feels the difficulty of having friends and expresses that he has only demon-like beings as friends and that they are “writers.” The spark of art is beyond the dreams of normal life, normal people, he thinks. There is a price to pay perhaps for this gift, loneliness and a keen sense, sometimes very difficult to bear, for the pain, pleasure of the ongoing world. The price of finding, knowing why you live, why you exist in this world of all tints of suffering, laughter, sadness and delight.
The artist, the person who lives with the muses, the being of joy and sorrow. The artist has a keen eye for what goes on, the interpreter of the inner worlds, hidden from the senses.
In the film “Rebel in the Rye” the famous writer Salinger sees that writing is his fate and he will not be able to escape it. Even on holiday with his family, he writes and writes. This is what he was born for, writing, continuously, he achieves the goal of his being. This is what he has craved for, alone with his sentences, words, letters. Gauguin was only satisfied when he was with his paintings, creating a world out of the world around us, familiar, but hidden from the ordinary eyes, the eyes always on the winning game of the bustle of the world. Frida , the artist of spiritual and physical suffering, could only survive with her painting, with the belief that it was her reason for being in this planet, “Burn”ing “it Blue”. Dovlatov went on writing in his own way even though the authorities never liked, published his work, literature was the strong need in him, it was impossible for him to deny it, it was his living source.
Is it the revenge of the busy world, the artist not being able to mingle with others, watching the days go by like ships, one after the other? Does being ordinary mean being happy, satisfied? Do we live to be happy and satisfied all the time? What brings satisfaction? In our trial of living, being, we have to do our best in doing the things that make us kindle the fire in our veins, pain and pleasure are mingled in this effort. Tonio mentions to his artist friend Lizaveta that a really normal person “would neither write, nor play or compose.” He says “literature is not an inspiration, but a curse.” He complains about its being felt itself at a very early age. He mentions the time the artist feels the difference from other people, “the cliff of knowledge and feeling.” Jack London in his marvellous novel “Martin Eden” describes this estrangement in a perfect way and we see that Martin could not go on living. Van Gogh, as we see in the film “Loving Vincent” , with all his genius, found it impossible to live among people who looked down on him all the time. An artist should find happiness with her/his work of art only and not expect appreciation from people, but of course we are all sociable beings and it is very difficult. Loneliness being satisfied in the little world of artistic world, embracing nature instead of people who refuse to see might be the best way of life. Love can be found on untrodden ways on the most unexpected corners. Salinger can be a good example, he refused the glory of fame, did not publish his recent works, chose to write for his own pleasure.
As Mann finishes the book, we see Tonio writes about the world he dives in, the world that “needs to be shaped”, “the shadows of people who point at him to be handled and saved.” How he loves them, those “ordinary people.” He begs Lizaveta not to condemn him and mentions how “good, creative and fertile” this love is. Out of this love the artist makes his sparkling world, it is the spark of art that enlightens our worlds. The sparkle that catches the glittering of the stars, beyond time as we know it, the tints beyond the rainbow makes our little blue worlds a place worth to live.