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Thursday, May 9, 2013

This is how life makes art with my unused 'art-icle'

Life Makes Art: A Brief Commentary on Carl Jung’s Take on Creative Culture

By Michael LaPenna

In his 1933 paper Modern Man in Search of a Soul, famed psychologist Carl Jung denotes a certain pull that a creative person may feel within his or her process, his or her "zone" as many of today's athletes might term it:

"Every creative person is a duality or a synthesis of contradictory aptitudes. On the one side he is a human being with a personal life, while on the other side he is an impersonal, creative process...The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him.”
But could this be true? Could art in fact be making the artist? And furthermore, how  does Dr. Jung's analysis hold up in today's world of street illustration and the Instagram-capable sort of instant coffee, snapshot culture that it tries to predict? As a creative person myself, working in multiple media and bouncing ideas from a piece of music onto a screenplay or taking an idea from a dream and incorporating it into a photo I take of a loved one creeping up out of her bed after a nap, I often find that these decisions are not made by any kind of deliberate thought, but more so unconsciously in the sometimes weird and erratic rhythms of my intuition.
In a similar way, Jung portrays this intuition as what he calls "collective man" who "carries and shapes the unconscious psychic life of mankind." But whereas Jung suggests a kind of giving up of individual freedom, today's digital culture of Facebook food photos and happily self-indulgent baby pictures of our little ones that seem all too capricious and hippieishly free, it could be that these two dueling sides may be cordially acquainted with one another in a way that has never really existed until the advent of smart phones, status updates and the iPad. We the people have the distinct pleasure and opportunity to bring together our intuition with our natural human impulse to express instant gratification with each snap of a lunch photo with a cheesy sepia filter or the joy of our sons' and daughters' Saturday afternoon soccer game with a hint of our collective understanding of what is to be human combined with, for instance, an awesomely hilarious dance-off at a local karaoke bar that you and your family will hold dear for generations now immortalized in a photo stretched and mounted on a canvas to be cherished from the far corner of your livingroom. It is most definitely for me a gloriously happy meshing of capturing everyday life while it also expresses our individual views  and interpretations of the world in a way that can make us all as whimsically expressive as Jung’s idea of the creative person might suggest minus the bruiting and tortured moans and groans of making a big deal about it. And that, my friends, is beautiful.  

Source: Carl Gustave Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933, Harvest Book, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, 1961 paperback, pp. 168-171.