Three (toward a personal aesthetics)
I stood for a time letting my eyes take in the zinnias in bloom. Took them in. Into my body, into the structure of my cells, the chemistry of my body. I let my gaze fly easily from one to another, like the insects, the little flies disguised as bees, from flower to flower, to the leaves that embraced them in their green cloak—returning again and again to an orange blossom that drew me to it. This will be a painting, I thought, but not a painting anyone would recognize as zinnias. It will be a painting that I will make with my eyes, guiding brush or pen, moving from point to point on the page. It will be a painting those little bee-flies will help me make. We will make it together: flowers, bees, the fold of green, the press of my feet on the sidewalk telling me it was time again. Time returned, telling me to move on. Till the next time.
The art work is an eidolon. It exists in the memory and experience of those who have seen the object that engendered it. It is not the physical object. The eidolon is as powerful as the number of people who have viewed, read or heard it, and carry it with them. The power of the eidolon is that of a shaper. It alters and shapes perceived reality. Its power is cumulative and collective.
The artist views a face, a garden, a city street, patterns in broken pavement, an image in a dream: hears tone and timber in a voice, birdsong, wind: feels in their own body how bodies move — or all of this and more in the torrent of words that surround them. This is the compliment of what might become the eidolon, but is not yet. It is, for now, only a private vision, a kind of pain, unease, something that does not want to remain private, where it will become a disease, a symbiant that may fade and die—or kill its carrier… or find voice and body, form and duration in the thing we misname, as ‘art.’ It first becomes the eidolon as the artist takes it in, standing aside even as they make it, to see, listen, move beside it as it moves from their body, into what its becoming. The artist may feel this as healing—but what it heals, what it saves them from, is the unborn thing, the art that found no becoming in the world, where it gathers power and being in the view of others.