Expressing the ineffable

I’m thinking about a quote from the artist Dan Rice in which he describes painting as “a means of expressing the ineffable.” The idea of articulating that which cannot be uttered is, to me, so rich. In fact, there are days I believe it’s my purpose in this life. The thing is, as hard is it is to get there — into that current of creative inspiration — it’s even harder to maintain the connection. So I spend a lot of time trying to find routes in. Art helps. Watching the sky change, mood ring-like, from inky night into blue dawn. Music is often the quickest path: I’m currently listening to “Open Up A Window” by Sean Hayes.”

So here’s the thing. If I feel that in a song — the connection to that which illuminates us, the flipping of the switch — then the musician must have felt it too, right? Alone in the studio, making something and knowing that it really is something. That it is, indeed, an inroad.

I’ve felt it in my writing. The sudden jolt of it, the electrical charge. The way words come with a blood-shuddering rhythm of their own as if not from my mind at all but from some place beyond me. They just course through and my only job is to be open.

Usually around the time I intellectualize that, I lose the thread.

So how do you stay in the stream? How did Sean Hayes finish “Open Up A Window”? And did it feel like enough, along in the studio, in the moment? What if that song was only ever heard by Hayes and his maker? Is art created in a void the proverbial tree falling in the forest? Or is the expression of the ineffable enough, even without an audience?

I don’t know the answer. I do know that when I make a really good playlist and listen to it while I’m walking to and from work, I dance in my head. I don’t need a witness. I know my moves are correct.

One thought on “Expressing the ineffable

  1. Seems to me that expression is enough. Created in a void even, it remains art created. Sans viewers but not without witness. The maker knows. The chicken can see (i.e., be here now).
    Surely some ancient poets (I’m thinking Chinese) would nod, “yes…”
    Now-revered, then-drunken, wouldn’t they suggest one paint, or write furiously on a slip of paper, and then hide it on a tree or bury it in the mud? How could others read it or hear it or see it quite the same anyway?
    I use a pinned-up Benjamin Disraeli quote, “Most people die with their music still locked up inside them.” to spur me on.

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