What is a Flower?
My dear friend affirmed once: “we don’t need artists”. I disagreed but wished to advance only a vague idea as a response to what appeared to me an epistemological absurdity. Art does not constitute knowledge but can we acquire knowledge of the truth without it? By truth is meant, the deeper layers of our nature. By knowledge is meant, a cognitive sentience, to know through the senses. But this would be the subject of another chapter.
“No…but we need bodies. Do we need air for them to breathe? If not, why should we need life? I would agree henceforth, if we do not need life, why would we need art? But he did not say art, he said artists, and art does well by itself. Nature is an artist, we would also agree on this, and what is ubiquitous but nature? god’s omnipresence would falter without it, although in this matter, am I not mixing a form of reality with a senseless principle? Let us suppose we do not need her either since we do not need artists. Do we need god more than we need nature? God has never been more than an idea. A fabulous idea that has entranced us for thousands of years. But an idea is not art. It is art only once the artist has transformed and realised it. Where does the idea originate? Nature. Self-reflexive nature within the cosmos of consciousness. She will make art by herself, she will emulate the awakening of her mountains, oceans and forests and all creatures vegetal, animal and mineral within, and occasionally, she will speak through us. We may misinterpret her emanations, and one such misinterpretation is god.
Can I say, “I cannot live without art?” What is a body without life? We can separate the two, body and life, but life and art are one and the same. When Nietzsche affirmed “God is dead”, he had forgotten god had never been alive… but in our imagination, unless we must call the place of god’s origins differently since imagination is a universe in itself, for if nature is art and art is life, god a mere idea is lifeless, in fact, god is the anti thesis of life and so is the law. We have agreed to enslave life by subverting her to the law of god. And this law tells us we must progress beyond nature, without art, therefor outside of life.
Nature is an artist, since we do not need artists, we do not need her. Perhaps it also means we do not need to think. But thinking is not only cognition contrary to Descartes’ belief, despite the suspicion his famous dictum “cogito ergo sum” may not derive strictly from a logical assumption but from a psycho-sensory revelation. We form systems to apprehend that which we are afraid to feel. In essence, to feel, to think and to make, all belong to the same nucleus. This nucleus is life. To separate these elements thus means to arrest the flux of life, and when this is practiced on the body, the heart stops. In any case, since nature is art as much as she is an artist, and life springs from nature, for life springs from itself, humans deprived of art would only be bodies, bodies without life, the blind dead walking to hell’s doors thinking them to be the gates of paradise. A body can be lifeless but life is never artless although art can be lifeless and as it is revealed, one finds it is not art, but simply a body imitating life.
Should I ask: “ would I be without art” as opposed to “What would I be without art?”
My good friend assures me that yes of course I would be, with the zealous certainty of a salesman, although I suspect the devil’s advocate in his ironic smile. But it would not be ‘I’. On this matter of the ‘I’, the illusion of individuality, I wonder what would happen if all atoms were formed identically all over the universe. Not even close to the initial murky soup we are led to believe preceded the galactic order we observe today, closer to absolute stasis, although we as a species assert our own anachronism by measuring a world where we may no longer co exist with what we perceive. Imagine all of us stuck to one end of the lens scrutinising the cosmic field at once. Would we agree on what we see?
What would my friend ask a flower? Can we think of one question? May be this question would enlighten my friend on my answer…which is not an answer. “Dear flower what would you be if you were not a flower?” To which the flower would be so puzzled all her petals would pale into insignificance and fall to the ground.
“What is a flower?” is the question. Is it the scent that oozes from it? Or the colour of her petals, or is it the density of her stem, the chlorophyll in her leaves, the shape of her crown, the way she curls when her head grows heavier? All these characteristics are the product of the flower. The flower is what she makes. All that issues from her is hers because it is her. As the flower makes these changes in the nature of her being while growing and dancing between birth and death, so life makes changes in all of nature while nature travels to innumerable worlds carrying life within her. What is a flower but the nature of herself? What can she make but what she is? She is art, the art of life and so, what else can I be, besides an artist, more than an artist, as all artists, I am art, no different from this flower. How could I be without art if I am art?
My friend, almost needless to add, is an artist…and a flower.
Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2014