Life is like the longest of negotiations. We are like skiffs in a turbulent sea, as we struggle to retain some semblance of control while braving the incessant waves of a myriad of challenges, disappointments, exertions and triumphs which daily life throws at us. Physiological and psychological responses to these artistic and ideological exchanges crafted by our (sub)conscious minds come in a variety of forms which are not necessarily tangible or rational in nature. How much of these interactions are actually retained in the foreground of our thinking?
The human brain often prioritizes against the wishes of the conscious mind: the tidbits of our golden days may be forgotten in a few years, while the seemingly most insignificant random encounter might choose to remain on the slate boards of our memory.
I saw a middle-aged man on the city bus the other day. In his wallet was an old passport-sized photo of a much younger version of himself. The transient nature of youth and all its prosperity stirs the artist’s mind and he must find a way to express it. He jots down this moment in his scrapbook for later, when he decides to craft his expression of the event.
Expression of oneself cannot be measured if the question is how best to portray something. What is the best way to recreate that exact moment in your psycho-existential continuum? Should you even be asking that question? Any individual that ventures an expression has to face the insecurities that his and the society’s perception of both him and the surrounding environment bring about.
In my eyes, I am not an artist. I do not feel compelled to periodically have an opinion or articulate every single reaction that is conceived in my psyche. I am very dissimilar to a poet who pursues rhythm and eloquence in daily life. When expressions manifest themselves, do they necessarily reflect our sense of right and wrong? Is it OK to use red ink if you’re not correcting someone or crossing something out? However the use of red ink was born not out of a need to challenge convention. Isn’t red a striking color anyway?
Thus the cycle of stimuli and responses repeats as we journey through the disruptive clutter of feelings and emotions. The definition of fulfillment and significance are varying in nature across different walks of life. Not all are lucky enough to possess the ‘philosopher’s stone’. A highly celebrated person may not experience a fraction of the amount of fulfillment that a simple family man or a vagabond does. A mundane place at a mundane hour of the day may be completely transformed by the simple addition of sounds, colors or the culmination of little positive actions. I once read in a book of how an otherwise unremarkable street was said to have been morphed into a place that inspired happiness when children started drawing on the street-facing walls of the adjacent houses. Such is the power of art: a channel of expression that pre-existed verbal language. It is what an individual gives back to the world that is purely they. For me, these drawings are not art per se, but a tool to recover the sensation of life, while coping with the dynamics of my very existence.
“And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life” – Viktor Shklovsky.
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