Monday, September 1, 2008

What type of "Artist in Wartime" are you?

Traditional Battlefield-Style Warfare?

War Re-enactment?

War metaphors?

Cold War?

Guerilla War?

War of Words?

War of Wills?

War as "hot, man-on-man action"?

Submissions are now being accepted for Fiction International's "The Artist in Wartime" issue.

1 comment:

conman said...

I'd been thinking right along these same lines. These quotidian extensions of "artist" and "war"; art and soldier. How thick are the lines? At what point is one, declaratively, either an artist or engaged in war; vice versa, a warrior or in the presence of art.

And further, where do the two mix? For as an artist, one must be simultaneously engaged and disengaged with the world, withdrawn and thrown in head-first. While in war, there is no one foot in and one foot out. You are either at war or you're not. Active or AWOL.

Let's be mundane, as we're all tellurians here.

Artist and war. Is not the common man an artist? And is not the common life a work of art, albeit an occasionally abstract, cubistic and for the most part difficult one to understand?

War, defined by Webster, is any active hostility or struggle, and further, a military option thereof as a science. An artist is anyone who does something - anything - very well, but to be clearer, one who is skilled in the fine arts, a professional.

Art then is defined, quite poignantly, as human creativity. It's almost defined as cunning, which is interesting to say the least.

All of that being understood, what man or woman is not at the same time an artist and a warrior?

A father fighting unemployment. A mother tackling two jobs as though they were bullish mastodons. A boy reconciling with his loneliness. Is there not artistry and insurgency and heroism in all of these acts? Is there any one of us who is not currently and always an artist at wartime? Trying to master something which by some universal dictum repels mastery?

The very engagement of being has both artistic and militaristic demands, even if you never brush a stroke or grip a weapon your entire life.

If life is an unwritten symphony of to-be-determined number of bars - and why the hell shouldn't it be? - what else are we but amateur composers fighting against a big composition that wants very much to perform its own masterpieces. Beethoven and his Es Muss Sein! Make it so.

Hemingway had been quoted to say that we are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master. Obviously this has writerly implications. But it also extends beyond that. To be brunt, you will not master this world. It will inevitably break you to pieces. War is our everyday task. Substitute guns with pens or guitars or computer keys or larynxes or libidos or gas pedals or feet or heart beats and suddenly warfare is a pretty droll display of human dailiness. Something very unfit for the cinema, but certainly not lacking in heroism. Living, the basic choice of survival, is an artful war waged against death.

Art, or to be an artist, is to live consciously. To allow oneself to be vulnerable, so as to feel all that can possibly be felt and create a world out of it.

War is that very fight to live consciously. Painful and voluntary and almost interchangeable with art.