We are overdue for an artist’s movement that will change the world. It may sound absurd to you but it is only because you have been sleepwalking through life of late, we have all been sleepwalking. It is we the artists who shape perception. We see the path and leave signs in our art for others to follow. But we have lost sight of this fact. We have allowed others to tell the stories, to paint the picture. We have allowed corporations and profiteers to take over. The world of late has been shaped by corporate artists for corporate interests. Hell, we’ve even become corporate artists ourselves, allowing ourselves to believe we do what we must to earn a paycheck.
Even worse, we have become irrelevant. We have become domesticated, toothless, and fangless. We have forgotten the power we possess and quietly whisper half-truths and assertions we ourselves do not understand nor believe. We no longer even dare call ourselves artists because we fear what the name implies. We fear to take on such a bold undertaking and so call ourselves songwriters, novelists, painters, or filmmakers. But we are artists, all of us, all who seek to express beauty and truth. If we are not artists then we are propagandists. Even if we do not out and out lie, if we do not profess what we believe, if we do not reflect what we see, we are in the camp of the enemy by lulling the population into somnolence when we should be awakening them to their true condition.
It is time once again for human art that expresses human values. Not money’s values, not machine values, not corporate values. When humans take back art they take back control of their path, their direction, their destiny.
It must be done boldly, not with one eye behind us, fearing that it will not provide a living. The time has come for choice, the road has diverged and we must choose which path to take. In truth, the paths diverged long ago, and we have been stumbling halfheartedly through the tall grass. It is time to find the path those who have inspired us have laid clear for us.
To crawl on the way we have been, meekly obeying our baser motives, denying all that is best of our humanity, or to embrace with both arms the visions we see at our best moments. Perhaps we have waited so long because we've allowed ourselves the belief that the other path, the path of doubt and timidity, offered at least a degree of security. Now we have walked it too far, can no longer deny the destruction and hopelessness that lies at the end of it.
We must embrace our childish dreams with adult determination. It is not maturity to do otherwise, it is a refusal to develop ourselves into the most complete humans we can become, a refusal to grow into what we are capable of being.
Crawl from your cribs and your playroom you call your man cave and stretch out into a larger existence than you have dared imagine. It can be frightening, yes, but it is worth the risk. The alternative is a life not lived. Put aside fear, and dare.
Art is not a diversion, it is the summit of human understanding. Literature is not the construction of a beautiful though frail glittering glass ornament. It is the creation of a prism through which we are able to see the world we live in in a way we never have before. It is not the plaything of ivory tower intellectuals nor an escapist drug for bored housewives, but the raw, pulsing stuff of life, the essence, the soul.
Art is a prism, not a microscope or telescope, which has us looking too finely or too far, but a prism to see what is before us, what is nearest and most relevant.
You the artist shape how your audience perceives the world. You influence their behavior. It’s a big responsibility but you cannot avoid it. That is why you must try your utmost to give what you perceive to be the truth. To do otherwise, to produce work that is devoid of the deepest parts of you, is to tell others that the deepest part of you—and them—doesn’t matter. Is that the message you wish to convey?
Charles Barkley once said that he was not a role model, but he was wrong. Once you have someone’s attention, you are a role model whether you like it or not. If you ask to be listened to, if you go out of your way to seek the attention of others, then you incur the responsibility that comes with that. You cannot merely entertain, it doesn’t work that way. You cannot offer only entertainment without message because that in itself sends a message, that life is a trivial game we play with no real purpose or moral aspects.
The world is adrift on a rudderless ship, but you the artist are the rudder, you know it to be true. You ask for them to see through your eyes, to follow you as you weave your story. You are the navigator who sees the directions written in the stars. Do not tell the rest what they wish to hear but tell them what you have seen. Do not tell them for another instant what they want to hear when you know it’s not true, no matter how much approval or money you stand to lose.
You are the artist. It is given to you to see what others do not or will not. It is given to you to speak of beauty and of truth. That should be enough. Indeed, there is no other reward that equals it.