It has been pointed out to me, by artists, that I give much more description of my work than is necessary, thereby decreasing its effect as work of art. And it has been pointed out to me, also, by non-artists, that description is just what is missing in most modern artwork; and, that they are being enabled to understand it, is a relief for them. From both of these I conclude that my work is weak in how it currently is. Compare with something like Dickens’ Christmas Carol or Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief or Van Gogh’s Wheat-field with Reaper or Breton’s Song of the Lark or much by the Peredvizniki group of artists. Ambiguity is rarely a defining quality of these works; what is really ambiguous is left ambiguous and not attempted to be clarified, and what is clearly unambiguous is not purposely made ambiguous to impress. My painting is inferior in so far as being a work of art it requires words at all to be explained. Admitting that however, I must proceed as I have been.
The title I originally intended to be ‘Philosophical Confusion’, however, just ‘Philosophy’ is preciser. For a person seriously concerned with it, it is not punctuated, with spells of confusion, but consists solely of it- and the often torturous need to overcome it.
Philosophical confusion- I have used that phrase in almost every serious conversation I have had since some time. Trials of ridding myself of it, is what marks my days and nights. The picture may best be described to an uncomprehending (through no fault of his own) viewer as follows: ‘You remind me of somebody who is looking out through a closed window and cannot explain to himself the strange movements of a passer-by. He cannot tell what sort of storm is raging out there or that this person might only be managing with difficulty to stay on his feet.’ But let me not describe much further; I hope through what conclusions I am presenting now, and with what I have written previously, the mood I hoped to convey, and the spirit in which the work was done, would be clearer. What I’ve been struggling with since so long to get into words, and which I hope to be able to conclude with this very expression, let me summarise as follows:
- ‘Everything is what it is, and not another thing.’
- ‘Am Anfang war die Tat’ (In the beginning was the deed)
- ‘I am my world’
- ‘To suffer without complaining is the one lesson that has to be learned in this life.’
The first is possibly the closest to what the picture mainly conveys, warns against. The second, is in a sentence, Manifesto Part #7. The third and fourth may need further explanation. ‘Idealism singles men out from the world as unique, solipsism singles me alone out, and at last I see that I too belong with the rest of the world. In this way idealism leads to realism if it is strictly thought out.’ An eye in a visual field, it is part of it, and yet everything is seen by it. An honest idealist, strives to change himself to change the world; an honest realist is led to nothing other than stoicism. And how many great men have there been, who are both stoics and who look within for faults they find in the world. The last, has primarily to do with Satyagraha. In the realm of affection, it can be summarised by saying that what ought to be sought is to be able to give, and not to be able to receive. ‘And this giving is not giving up, not being deprived, sacrificed. Also, it is not where giving without receiving is “being cheated”. It must not feel like an impoverishment; it is the highest expression of potency.’
Wittgenstein describes as a quality of every great work of art, it having in it, ‘a wild animal, tamed’.
Consider as a final elaboration of this, and of Manifesto Part #7, the third movement of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata. It is vulgar in its expression, and desperate; but necessarily so. It describes, exactly!, the wildness of the wild animal, restrained, striving to erupt into the open. A fracture in its cage, it has caught sight of.
Featured image: Philosophy by Arjun Jain
Medium: Watercolour on Paper
Year(s): 2016 (January)
Size: 56×75 cm
Ending video: Piano Sonata No.14 in C minor, Op. 27, No. 2, Movement 3, by Ludwig Van Beethoven, performed by Valentina Lisitsa.
Quotations are by Bishop Butler, Goethe (Faust, Vol II), Ludwig Wittgenstein,Van Gogh, Erich Fromm but the same have been expressed in multiple ways by multiple thinkers.