When human consciousness rose to the level of somewhat matured self-awareness, which included the awareness of the distinction between the realities inside and the outside of the human being, human artistic personality gradually evolved.
Who is an artist? An artist is a human being who much more than a common human being is inclined to appreciate, evaluate, and delineate the beauty and mystery of nature and human beings. Popularly, this is considered self-involvement but it is not, it is an inclination. An artist is inclined to get immersed in the love and mystery of nature and man, and out of that immersion come works that are beautiful, stimulating, and intriguing, engendering for man new meaning of life, immersing him in life in a new way, flowering in him the questioning spirit, which has marked the development of man in the last 500 years. In other words, an artist has transformed the substance and the style of man.
Because of an artist’s preoccupation with nature, god, and himself, he is often is seen as an individualist, eccentric, and a pariah. Popularly, he is considered as a semi-dropout from society. Often artists are semi-shunned socially and generally never regarded as role models. But, successful artists do become famous, venerated, wealthy, but generally not role models. This is because they often lead irregular lives. Many of them are deviants from normal alcohol, sexual, drug, and social lives. Also, eccentricity, in general, paints their lives. Living at an edge of their lives, artists attempt to glean at human life and nature from a different perch than a normal man does.
Artists, generally, lead unhappy lives. This is because of their strong individuality, strong character, and an undefined mission in their lives. Often, artists do not know what they want in their lives. In fact, they start with a clear-cut focus of what they want in their lives, but with time it gets fuzzy, obliterated, and then fades out. Many an artist leads painful and sometimes tragic lives. Disillusionment is the most popular state of the mind of an artist. What had started as a promise-filled, original, and brilliant life ends in disillusionment and heartbreak.
Human societies, almost since time immemorial, have been based on commercial enterprise. An artist is an anomaly in it. But there have been kings and queens in the past that have helped artists pursue their special work. But that is a small exception in the fabric of society. Many a brilliant artist has died of hunger, in debt prisons, and beaten by regular society. Spouses and children have left many artists as they were unable discharge their conventional duties.
Who is an artist? He is a prophet of god, who has come down from Mt. Olympus to bring human beings a new vision of life, to revive their old music. Much maligned he continues to be in the society but he, often without much remuneration and fan-fare, performs a spectacular job of reviving the human spirit.
Suffern, New York, Dec. 8, 2012