Among artists Nature is the Mother of all Muses. She is the Supreme Deity. Alpha and Omega. The Sublime. Every single thing an artist produces is an imitation of Nature, Her processes and personalities, Her thoughts and actions. Any artist who hopes to master his art will do so only by becoming more precise, more truthful, in his representation of the acts of Nature. To do so, he must pledge allegiance to Her like a nation, swear fealty like a knight, bow and make sacrifices like a supplicant.
By Nature I mean something like Spinoza’s notion of God. Nature as Substance. Nature as the organism called Reality. Through Her comes all inspiration, all objects of our attention and all modes of thought. The dark and light materials of all artistic creation are themselves les objets d’art of Her One True Art, and so the great artist gives thanks to Nature the same way he gives thanks to the instrument makers for making the tools with which he practices his craft.
Orpheus was said to be the greatest of all artists. Both a musician and a poet, Orpheus was beloved by Nature because he could, through his art, stir the stones and set the trees to dancing. Every artist aspires to such a condition. To compose great works so that Nature herself takes notice. Animals, running into Orpheus in the woods, would stop what they were doing to listen to his music. His singing was so beautiful he calmed the Clashing Rocks and saved the Argonauts from the sirens, who stopped their own bewitching songs to hear his.
It’s the highest aim of an artist to change his surroundings through his art. So is Orpheus the archetypal artist because he affects Nature, and Nature is not easily impressed. Her works are great already. What does She care what we do? But a great artist can catch Her eye.
So how did Orpheus do it?Continue reading “Cultivating a Worship of Nature as an Artist”