Endel, an artist friend of mine, believes that the audience for a work of art emerges from the artist. Whoa! Let me say that again. Endel thinks that audience evolves from the artist through the art into the real people who encounter the art.
This makes my head spin. I’ve always thought of audience as a bunch of people scattered around the country like you, my faithful blog readers; I reach out to you with these words; you read them (or not) and become their audience (or don’t). When I write I have you in mind but I imagine you as separate from me in identity and body. I think of my words as bridging the gap between us.
Endel doesn’t. He traces the noun “audience” back to its Latin origin, audire, the verb “to hear,” and embraces its implied receptivity. “To audience,” he writes, is to “receive from Source by truly hearing in the act of sacred listening.” Artists “audience” inspiration, and this then plants an “audience seed” in us. We cultivate the seed by making art. The audience grows as the art grows. When the art is launched into the world, the seed breaks ground, taking form as a living person or, if we’re lucky, many people.
Endel is teaching me an entirely new way to think about art—and others. The word “person,” he points out, means “sounding through.” A spark of life or inspiration sounds through us into our creations and sounds through our creations into other living, breathing creations who are also sparks of life and sources of inspiration. I’m reminded of the Nguni Bantu word ubuntu from South Africa: “A person is a person through other persons.” We become persons by sounding through each other.
If this is true, then some part of you is deeply within me. By writing I tend that part until it’s strong enough to reach out across cyberspace to sound within you. Which means you wrote this piece. Thanks! I’m mystified, but grateful. –Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
I’ve just learned that Living Revision won a silver Nautilus Book Award! Hooray! I’ve long admired the Nautilus Award for honoring books that “support conscious living & green values, high-level wellness, positive social change & social justice, and spiritual growth.” Be sure to check out their great lists. Thanks to Skinner House for making this possible.
Hard to believe, but there’s only three more Wisdom Ways Spiritual Memoir drop-in sessions before we break for the summer. Join me this Friday, April 12, from 1:30-3:30 to explore form. Every bit of creation has an inherent, unique form—including our stories. We’ll experiment with structural possibilities for spiritual memoir, reflect on how form follows function in writing, and practice listening for emergent unity within the fragments of our memories. Our remaining topics are:
May 10: Childhood, Revisited
June 14: Community and Revision
And look what landed on my desk yesterday! Isn’t it gorgeous? The book launch, hosted by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, will be on May 14 from 7-9 p.m. at Open Book. I hope you can come!