Archive for March 29th, 2023

Complicated Life

GC Myers-  Silent Dusk

Silent Dusk– At the West End Gallery

Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.

–Wallace Stevens, Letter, December 19, 1935

It is a complicated world, isn’t it?

I thought about what the poet Wallace Stevens wrote above, and it struck me that if life were without complexity, there would be no need for much of the art or literature that civilization has produced through the centuries.

Art and literature is a way of dealing with the innate hardship of life, of trying to simplify and make sense of the mystery that life presents to us each day.

If this life were sensible and simple, without mystery or complications, what would there be to simplify? Would there be a need for art?

Oh, I think art of some form would exist just for the sensory pleasure it provides. But it would be all surface. The meaning and depth would most likely be missing.

This tradeoff of meaningful art for a simplified and uncomplicated existence might be acceptable for most folks. There are plenty of days when I would take that trade.

But we all know that this proposition is just a pipedream. Despite our wishes and best efforts, life is seldom simple. Art still serves a purpose in helping us face the complexity of this life. To show us the meaning held in those inevitable darker moments that we all must face at some point in our existence. To attempt to make sense of the mystery we all must face.

On most days, I am thankful there is art to lean on. Not just because I attempt to create it. No, much more than that, art allows me to see that the feelings and emotions I experience in meeting these complications are universally felt, that I am not alone in my experience.

That is the comfort of art for me. And that’s not a small thing.

Here’s a favorite Springsteen song, Thunder Road, that is performed by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (Will Oldham) and Tortoise. Though the song in its original form had unmistakable meaning of its own, they transform it, making it into something different, but no less meaningful.

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