Exhortation

I will be honest. That is always the best policy. I do not look forward to your posts. They appear canned. You are scratching the surface only, merely reporting the most easily accessible of details, whatever you can grasp with ease. You are not writing from the heart, not exploring either the subject or the language, the words and the sentences, by which you might unlock that subject. You are not reaching. One’s reach should always exceed one’s grasp, and you are not even reaching, as if the history of art should fall into your lap at your slightest beckoning.

There are only obsession and mediocrity. The history of art should be up there with your piano and your dance. Certainly you play piano and you dance with more commitment than you apply yourself to your study. Maybe piano, dance, and art are too much for you, together with your work. Had you not enquired as to how you were doing, I would simply have presumed that you were just another average student in pursuit of an average grade. If you want more from this course, give more to this course.

Piano and dance are disciplines. Foreign language study is a discipline. Are you studying French as well? You should be. Piano, dance, and foreign language study are practices of personal cultivation. The history of art is more than that. It is interpersonal. It connects you not only with art, but artists, and their histories, and their cultures. The history of art is no less important than history itself, than philosophy, than music, mathematics, science. It is essential.

Back to your writing – all by which I will ever know you – I should feel upon reading one of your posts, any of them, that you have handed me a thread, at least a thread, that leads me between you and the topic of your exploration – your heart, your voice, your mind, bound to the heart, and hands, and voice, and mind of the artist.

Art, like poetry, like myth, does not inform, but communicate. Art is autobiographical. Interaction with it must also be autobiographical. An artist is like a man, or a woman, who is awakened too early, in the darkness, while everyone else is still sleeping, and instead of rolling over immediately, and falling back to sleep, resists this urge, resists it, because for him or her, it is important to qualify that experience, to describe it to him or herself, to live it fully, before submitting again to sleep. Art begins at that point, that moment, when resistance overcomes submission.

Art begins with risk. Our doubt is our passion; our passion, our belief. With courage, we create something that does not remind us of anything else. Between the realms mystery and identity, the artist plays with concealment and honesty, invention and reality, illumination and shadow. Love lies in the mystery; beauty, the identity. When lies overwhelm, there is art. When the truth is too much to bear, there is art.

Between essence and reality, there is myth. Its description, its telling, its unfolding, is poetical.

I could have responded to your query with a simple, ‘Okay, you are doing okay.’ Instead, I gave you all this. Will my words fall upon fallow ground? Have they already? You appear to be motivated to excel. Virtuosity in piano and dance are admirable, to be sure, but I would argue, and in the context of this course, I must, that writing is the noblest of arts, the most essential of crafts, the only sure way to leave for posterity indelible proof of your passing through this life.

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