How Art and Sacrifice Can Make You Immortal
We are compelled by our convictions, defined by the images that we manifest in our souls. And we breathe life into the singular moment that becomes a permanent fixture, as Matisse and Degas have embedded their paintings as eternally extraordinary. They, too, were compelled by the necessity to create, to inspire wonder, to endure forever. These particular moments of awe, remarkable for their sagacious nature, incite clarity and extend our intrigue beyond curiosity—- they illuminate what we have at once forgotten to see.
Anne Dillard on Writing
In her essay “Transfiguration,” Annie Dillard questions the students before her: “Which of you want to give your lives and be writers?”
Eager students shoot their arms way up into the air, as though they’d be willing at any moment to sacrifice their current existences for a life of solitude. Dillard uses a moth to illustrate her objective about the artistic life: “And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick. She kept burning.” Dillard emphasizes throughout her piece that she often chooses to reside on her own — an ascetic lifestyles, like a monk who lives for the divine. In order to attain this ceaseless flame of inspiration, sacrifices must be made.
Do we live for our art?
After an uncertain, metaphorical illustration, a moment of clarity emanates from Dillard’s words. “Is this what we live for? Is this the only final beauty: the color of any skin in any light, and living, human eyes? And then I tried to tell them what the choice must mean: you can’t be anything else.”
To write is to breathe; it is an act that will liberate the individual, but solely when total consummation is achieved, the writer admonishes her students.
Art as Immortality
The ultimate objective has been vividly expelled: there mustn’t be anything else, for to endure forever, for the candle to never be blown out, the writer must be fully submerged in the act of creating. No other means to such extraordinary heights exists. Grazing and recoiling the flame will not suffice in such an all-encompassing endeavor; one must be like “a hollow saint, like a flame-faced virgin gone to God.” A writer must be consummated by the art, compelled by its enduring nature, religiously devoted to the bastion of immortality: the written word.