The Art of Transformation

I suppose what troubles me is that things remain a mystery, you find a work of art for example, and you can examine it, take it apart even, and yet still not understand it. You can find yourself changed, even fundamentally, as in the whole essence of who you are transforming into something new, and still not understand it. Even more complicated is the relationship one holds with the artist, did they or their work transform you? I almost want to say it would be the work far more than the artist. It holds a life of its own really, and every novel contains a universe within, and when we read it, we become part of that universe. The same is true of all stories, no matter what form they take, whether in film, or novel, in poem, or song, in a painting. The magic of stories is that they contain a universe all their own, and when we partake we become a part of it. The artist is a great transformer, truly, but their work is often greater than it was set out to be, and this is a mystery.

I suppose the question is: Do I love the artist because they changed me, or did they change me because I love them? Do I love their work because the work changed me, or did I change because I loved the work? I am uncertain of the answer to that, but I think there is truth in both. A work, no matter how beautiful cannot work upon my soul if I do not pay attention to it or do not heed it.

The fact that I esteem the artist cannot be denied, neither can the fact that I changed as a result of encountering them, but the question remains, do I change because I esteem the artist or because the artist changed me? I think in the creation of the art, we infuse ourselves into the work, and thus we do change those around us, and yet it is most effective to the soul that takes heed, that stops and ponders, and attends to the work. This is the peculiar relationship between the artist and the partaker, a transformative work upon the soul of the partaker, yes, but also upon the artist who has placed themselves within their work.

I do have questions and thoughts, and there is central to all, the heart of the matter. The heart. For years I have heard it said that my heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I now think this is wrongly applied, and it has left me unable to enjoy a healthy, normal, relationship with other human beings. The heart is capable of goodness, or there would be no point in even attempting to live righteously. To the heart that believes itself wicked, it refuses to be a heart of love, it is true that I would say unto myself: “I might hurt them.” and it wishes to abstain from other humans. Nothing can be more harmful to the human condition than avoidance of humanity. I have to ask in reply: “Do you want to? No, I would do anything to benefit them.” a response that a heart, not of desperate wickedness, and deceit would answer, but a heart of love. Love says it would help and not hinder, love says it will not hurt or harm. There is no point in loving others if our heart is incapable of it.

So why be afraid. Do I have the courage to look into the mirror of souls? To see the lies, to see the glory, and feel the fire of the truth? To know myself? In the end, I believe I would see would not be an abyss black and without end, but something far more beautiful than even I have the capability to imagine. I believe the redeemed heart is particularly beautiful, but that all hearts are capable of goodness. I do not believe that some hearts are destined to be wholly evil.

The truth sets us free. So what is the truth? It really does come down to the matter of the heart, and the heart of the matter is that the heart is neither here nor there, it’s a living thing, and as such it is capable of turning to either the light or the darkness. Once again I come to the conclusion that we are defined by the choices we make. However, it must be taken into consideration that the heart is incapable of doing arising out of darkness of its own accord, and this is why humanity is in need of saving, despite our ability to make the right choices, we can’t lift ourselves out of the darkness.

I think sometimes that things are torn out of their proper context, and transformed from truth, to lies in themselves, and that it is more lies and fear that is preached than truth. Even by the well meaning, it is hard to be heard above the shouting, the still small voice of gentleness.

If a single lie, built by the twisting of the truth, has all but destroyed the notion of love for humanity, and I cannot accept that. The thing is, those who teach them are bound by the same lies they teach. I’m not sure what to name this thing, and it feels rather complicated.

However, I do believe that this is wrong, because everywhere people are being hurt. People lament that people leave, but we shouldn’t be surprised. If we turn our sanctuaries into places of harm, what can you expect?

I dislike seeing people hurt, especially when it occurs in the name of love. Yet, it is often only the result of lies believed, sometimes years and centuries of mistaken notions outworking themselves into hurting others for the sake of our own righteousness. Bearing that in mind produces a compassion not only for the hurt but often times for the one inflicting it.

Even so, I cannot deny that some have chosen to walk in the darkness, and they do hurt, sometimes without any clear reason, but they do hurt and do so with intention. Not all cruelty is comprised of mistaken notions.

In regard to myself I wish to walk in the way of gentleness, and hope, rather than the path of condemnation. There is enough condemnation already to go around the world a thousand times, I need not add to it. I hate it when I do, and I do at times. It would be wrong for me to claim otherwise. Condemnation is an ever-consuming monster whose appetite is never satisfied. Do not feed the monster.

Instead breathe life and hope into the world, seek to transform, and to build up, seek to love and set free. In many ways I suppose, this is the work of the artist, as much as it is anyone else. Some believe art to be purely a form of self-expression, and I suppose it can be, but it never can reach the hight of its ability unless it gets beyond the expression of the self. Neither can it do so if it is in the form of propaganda, which is to say that the art itself has been highjacked by a pasted on message. Art is at its best when it is neither centered upon the artist or the audience but simply is a work from which both the artist and the audience are transformed. This is not to suggest that great art is that which is accidental or unintended, by no means, the greatest arts are those which are very intentional indeed. Intricacy is one way in which a good work is separated from a great work. A good story may be told once and satisfy, but a great one can be told again and again, each time with something new to offer to all who partake of it. Another aspect is the hidden, a work that does not explain everything outright, but has at least some measure of mystery to it. A good story may be told outright, but a great one holds a mystery to it, something that is impossible to describe, yet we wish to partake of it, even if we do not fully understand it. It is the mystery that lends these works their believability, and their beauty.

Which is, I suppose, why both as an artist and a human, I wish to transform, even as I am transformed.