Thoughts on creation and art

Here follows a selection of Melker Garay’s texts, some of which have been picked out of his latest publication, (A twinkling night sky)..

On the deceitfulness of statements
There is something fraudulent with statements on works of art being beautiful. Because in these there is something challenging.

“It is beautiful!” someone exclaims.

These words, on a work of art being beautiful, is not only an opinion that is being expressed. There is something else, something that we could call a demand; a demand for everyone to have the same opinion as oneself, or at least an opinion that is regarded as cultivated. And that one only discusses whether the artwork is beautiful or not goes to show that such is the case. One does, so to speak, a claim that one’s own statement – that it is beautiful – is true.

But true in what way? True in a way that is concordant with nature, or concordant with the world of art, or maybe just in such a way that concurs with one’s private notion on what is beautiful? Yes, so it is, someone says. But to assert that something is beautiful in concurrence with something else comes to mean that one is possibly getting carried away in one’s claims, and this regardless of how familiar one is on the subject. And the explanation could very well be that beauty essentially lies beyond that which is knowledge. Because what does it mean to have knowledge on what is beautiful? Not to talk about that which is ugly? Is it truly beautiful or ugly? In which case, what does that “truly” entail?

The question is not if that which is beautiful is beyond language. In other words, that which constitutes a prerequisite for all knowledge.

“It is beautiful!”

Such a statement probably belongs to our experiences, that which cannot be quantified, can neither be weighed or measured, that which cannot fully be expressed with language. Put differently: that which doesn’t exist in any science. Or to invoke Emmanuel Kant, a statement is nothing else than a judgement, not a determinative.

I began this text writing that statements on what is beautiful are illusory. And the reason I mention this is because the non-declared demand is beautiful – the call for truth. A demand that perhaps needs to be present for the statement to become meaningful. One is, as it were, eager to express how matters are. Because no one wants to describe something with the reservation of claiming that this is one’s own opinion on it? Which again becomes obvious when someone contravenes one’s statement. When discussion arises. When differences of opinions are laid bare. Well, is there not something in us that makes us discomfited when someone thinks that you are completely wrong in what you believe is beautiful? Surely, we wouldn’t want to deviate when it comes to the aesthetic, when one thereto considers oneself conversant in subjects that touch upon the beautiful and the ugly?

Maybe one can consider my reasoning to be completely wrong. Maybe not. It’s true, some claim that it is surely wrong, others may claim the opposite, that the reasoning is evidently correct. So, let our common-sense be of help. However, it’s not certain that one might reach anything definite, even with guidance. And how hard will it not then be to determine what is beautiful and what isn’t, despite, or rather because of, our will for our statements to lay claim on that which is truly beautiful – that is, beautiful in an objective sense.

I wonder if it isn’t once we first realise the full scope of the statement’s deceitfulness, that we in earnest can speak of a work of art’s redemptive and an educating quality.

Melker Garay

On art theorists
Sensitive people ought to avoid this text.

If art theorists would hear of an artist masturbating publicly in a cemetery, they would initially feel moral indignation, later wonder… finally, they would ask themselves if this prank shouldn’t be considered art.

On writing
Do we write because there is a space within us impossible to fill?

Why does one write? I have asked myself that many a time. Do we write because there is a space within us impossible to fill? A vacuum. That is just there, that has always been there and will always be there. I wonder where this vacuum comes from. And why it exists at all. Maybe to remind us of something. Couldn’t the case be that that we so negligently call a vacuum is nothing else than a force driving human beings to create? Is it the vacuum we wish to fill? Didn’t creation itself come into being from this vacuum? Isn’t the presence of this vacuum the utmost condition for all creation? For all happiness? For all unhappiness?

There are instances when one is happy. There are moments when one loves to live. And there are days when one discovers that all that exists within oneself. There are, however, instances, moments and days when one feels desolate, when one feels lost, when one discovers one is infinitely lonely. It could perhaps be that writing has become man’s way of dealing with this loneliness. Because loneliness is a constant presence. I think suddenly of H C Andersen’s story of a little boy who had a shard of glass in his eye that distorted his sight. Prayer and acts of tenderness rescue the boy from the shard. But how does one release a person who is weighted by a loneliness that has become part of themselves? For loneliness is not a thing that one can remove; no shard or thorn. And is it even desirable to be liberated of it?

(From A twinkling night sky)

On creativity’s agonies
The threat of destruction becomes a driving force in all kinds of creation.

In Shakespeare’s sonnet 76 we can, from line five to eight, read:

Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth and where they did proceed?

Do these lines witness the creating human’s strict soul-searching and anxiety? Her fear of no longer being able to create something new, her worry of not knowing how to deliver the force within her, and the insecurity of the worth of that which she creates. The creating process becomes here a struggle for her. Filled with a painful gravity. And it is no wonder that she sometimes – when doubt prevails – is haunted and tempted by the grand notion to remove the binding and weighty cloak of creation that she wears. Because when each attempt at artistic revival is rejected, she becomes frustrated, crestfallen, and suddenly resignation is desirous.

But who rejects her? It is she and no one else than she herself, knowing that it is only her own artistry that can prevent the existential emptiness that constantly threatens to collapse into her life; an emptiness that destroys everything she has created. Herein lies a paradox, however, as the threat of destruction becomes a driving force in all kinds of art. And maybe it is therefore she – she who rejected herself – that again finds courage to take hold of the pen, the brush, the score that patiently awaits her.

(From A twinkling night sky)

In praise of consciousness
And our consciousness grows of course as all the more impressions that fall in through our senses.

Just think how magnificent consciousness is. Because it is magnificent. Exceptionally magnificent. A priceless gift that is simply there inside our heads when we make our entrance into this remarkable world. It soon feels at home and within a year it has seen to it that we have got the beginning of a language. Indeed, it is so magnificent that one is in awe at its power.

It rolls forward like an unrelenting wave and twists and turns everything that comes under its domination. Its force is so strong that it can darken a sky with only a thought. Its force is so strong that it can raise something that is completely insignificant so that it can be the start of an ageless story. And its force is so strong that it is even capable of giving us something as grand as dreams, hope and faith.

Bear in mind that we are talking about a force that is always there at our beck and call. And our consciousness grows of course as all the more impressions that fall in through our senses. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth and the rest of the body are its faithful servants. And consciousness – this brilliant wonder – is so filled to the brim with will, imagination and creativity that it can cause us to build bridges over fast-flowing waterways, construct vehicles that take us way outside our own world, and furthermore can create wonderful music; music that can make us suspect our mysterious origin. Tell me, from where does this force come? Because it must come from somewhere, surely?

The only thing we might know is that consciousness, this devoted ally, is here for our sake. And perhaps that the consciousness of each and every one of us is a part of a boundless consciousness that we will never be able to survey. In that perspective, consciousness becomes something amazing too. Something that we must take care of. Then it is of no consequence who it was that gave it to us. It is there like a mystery. Full of possibilities.

(From A twinkling night sky)

Photo: Jann Lipka