Words from the otherworld: Things we lost to the fire.
In art, often, it is discussed how it enriches lives, the lives of both consumers and artists. Rarely is it discussed what art takes.
And art takes. It takes and it takes.
Art is a hungry beast. Artists are what that beast feeds on. Art often gives as much as it takes away. And I am not just talking about the piles of rejection letters or bad reviews that nag at our egos. I am talking about the soundless griefs that are never flatly stated, griefs that are woven into the negative spaces between stroke of pen and brush.
There are so many losses, both small and large, that fall at the feet of art; sacrifices. The lovers who could not abide our success, or our failures. The parents who could not face what their child had become. Friends who could not understand our voracious hunger for solitude. People and opportunities that simply could not co-exist with that elusive beast. Hometowns that could no longer nourish that hungry beast and thus sent the artist packing, fleeing into unknown harbors.
Some harbors are kind. Some are not. The unknown is just that, unknown. Novelty is entirely necessary, but never without risk. The artist may stumble and hurt, but the art, the art it just feeds. Every shadow, every glimmer of light, whether from sun or glint of blade, is fuel for the beast.
Art is rarely kind to the artist. We, the artists, cannot breathe without art. Art cannot breathe without us. Yet it takes everything, absolutely everything to be an artist. It takes your soul.
This isn’t a note to bemoan art or the process of art. Nor is this a note aiming to detract from all the joy art brings, or how it saves lives – and it does, art save lives. As much as the art-beast feeds on souls, it nourishes them just the same. A wickedly splendid cycle… if you dare the traumatic.
This is a note to all the lovers, family, friends, times, places and other selves that might have been, but were simply abandoned for no other reason than art – the only reason.
This is a note to all the things I left to the flames in order to feed my soul to that bloated and wonderful beast of dust and dreams and shadows. That same beast that that curls around me when I curl in on myself, and then slowly stretches me out again, ripe with words ready for the casting. That beast who believes in me, even when I myself, and others, can’t. The beast of fire.