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making life a working art
may 8, 2010


It’s an aspirational importance wherein “art” is ever-anewing creativity.

But I hear the triteness of an “art of living” in the heading. That cliché can imply egoism or pretentiousness about conformance to preferred standards of style (presumed valuable because they’re preferred), and “art” is either mere craft or high exclusivity.

Yet, ‘art’ also pertains, historically, to what shows high sensibility or education, which expresses a sense of devotion to learning that never ends, before “art” becomes institutionalized sensibilities of “Art.” Though historically, Art rebels against itself as avant-gardes or imposes itself as interrogation of norms through dramatic performance (no easily-admirable model for making a good life, perhaps), many modes of life are easily appreciated “art”fully, even though the sense of that remains open: Deep friendship may deserve to be thought an art (beyond the art of great conversation, where we lose ourselves in thinking together, almost as a singularity). Maybe understanding of every kind of love can be enriched in terms of art (as understanding in itself can be thought art). Certainly, every conceivable aspect of actual lives has been the subject matter of recognized art forms, intended to be appropriated by the lives that appreciate the works of art, i.e., to contribute to the artful appreciability of those lives (as if that’s the point of formal art: to facilitate the artfulness of lives—as if the existence of formal art proffers the value of making lives working arts). Teaching can be an art, in some valid sense. Project development can be an art. Marriage that lasts all in all happily might be called an art. The days of one’s life can be devoted to appreciating the integrity of things; appreciating empathy or insightfulness; or loving a sense of holistic balance in composure. Does that not deserve to be thought as “art”ful in some very good sense of art?

The notion of “art” appeals to me as an open question relative to which a life can embody artful fidelity to its potential in terms of an open sense of what that may become. As the real “work” of art isn’t a product, rather a productivity—a durable enactiveness—so too for a creative life: Fulfillment is made, not acquired, and a person can aspire to make it finely, however difficult that may be to do—just as originality emerges from aspiring to do very difficult work, hopefully to be shown in unprecedented results. Fulfilling happiness may emerge from a creative individuation only through much difficulty, like mastering an art on a long road to fruitfulness, resulting in a triumph of capability which may deserve to be deemed a fulfilled work of art, if anything deserves to be. Or at least, such a way of understanding potential for fulfillment may enrich the sense of making a life, proportional to growth of appreciation for artfulness as such.

Integral to all this are others in relations that are as much parts of me as all the aspirations—others in hopes and anticipations, presents of daily life, engagements and collaborations, intimacy, kindredness, solidarity, and civil life. Making life a working art is about real human interest, as the belonging together of Self, a sense of my humanity, idealizations of humanism and humanistic union, love of the humanities, and proffering enhancement of humanity is all about a real world in which real lives are part of mine.

At the heart of this is a sense of intersubjectivity that is intimate, yet philosophical—a philosophical intimacy that is embodied (and entwined with you). I’m not going to model our intersubjectivity now, beyond avowing to others that we are in all of this project of so-called “conceptuality....”

Theorize intersubjectivity? How can this be fair apart from drawing from actual, ultimately incomprehensible life, best displaced in a manageability of narrative figures. “So, where is my love of you in this?,” he postured. Readers easily want vicarious intimacy, but there’s nothing vicarious at the heart of making life a working art.

Might every use of ‘I’ be ‘we’? An intimacy of selves, bodies—text—recalling so many notes online that pushed the envelop of seeing you here. But really, I just share a simulacrum of my love, in a rhetoric of intimacy that allegorizes so much that could be said, but remains unwritten here.

After all, the entire “conceptuality...” project is, relatively speaking, a preface in an online Project working toward a horizon where very serious conceptual adventuring becomes—I won’t say (but mention) mere poetic license, but a condition of developing, evolving conceivability—addressed to you who understand.

Meanwhile (laughing), I’m an advocate all around for appreciating complex feeling, promoting that as I can (educing that when I can), idealizing a rise in interpersonal relations, a deepening, enrichment into intersubjective bonds (i.e., living an empathic difference between interpersonal and intersubjective understanding). So, I play textually with intimacy, as if Relationship has a home among peaks beyond Leopold and Molly in grasses of “Yes!,” beyond the address of some Duino castle or what all inhabitation we’re drawn to remembering made us, but with high fidelity to primordial innocence in being and time, as if our peak can speak the point of all Literature (as if our evolving could conceivably be so elatedly embodied), which may be what poets are ultimately for.

So at times, we play a garden as if no one else is alive, and expansive traces of that in writing express a [secretly self-concealing] candor that honors however—poetically, conceptually—an estate kept unnamed.

I loved you warmly mocking me for a note that read “a high cognitivity of resolutely or devotedly (if not willfully) focusing on purposiveness,” a high something, in any event, a high indeed (but quoting absolves me of actually saying that, thank you).

That said may seem to others my easily being bored by what doesn’t serve my purposes. So be it. That unto itself isn’t egoistic, if I have easy empathy and enjoyment of others, too. Sometime loss of interest in others is just being highly purposed, wanting to get back to loved work. Actually being easily bored—much less than appears!—comes with the territory of high interest in the work. It’s not a judgment against others or workaholism or compensatory.

What excellence may come of it! Not a question (but a resoluteness), yet also a perpetual question in the perpetual Project of a life—though I’m not here and now just going on with It (“Just do it”); rather, making time to portray process.

I’m modest in practice, ambitious rhetoric notwithstanding (yet it’s idealization taken to heart). I live to play indeed, while working to good ends in quotidian (love that word) time.

But the aspiration is permanent. I’ll risk a lot (admiration, prosperity) to feel I really know what’s going on. If it takes transgression, I’ll walk a thin ledge to see behind a veil. Not caring to be seen as original, I want to know how recognized originality happens (as do numerous researchers in creativity). Let originality take me to bed, so I may know what it does. The nature of mind is there? Is the ultimacy of our humanity exemplified in leading singularity? How did s/he grow to be there? Without pretense of originality, I do what I can in the time I have. I play for keeps. Without vanity, I play desperate to understand—whatever will let me know.

Or at least, the allegory of literal adventuring tropes the easier road to elated plays of mentability. Alinguistic mutimodality of pure enthrall (that “brightly scoping hunting gathering distilling intimacy of mystery”) evinces themes—hundreds over a year, let’s say. Periodically, I take time to group them (thematizing) into projects; I love doing this: thematic as project—thematology as project vining. By now, there’s an expansive taxonomy of interesting things, and little arises from current events and publishing (which interests me) that doesn’t seem to fit somewhere in my array—which says either that I know what I’m doing very well; or I’ve settled into my boundaries. But misfitting enchantment is best of all!: Something really new is happening with my interests or the world. So, the thematology is never static. Things die away; births thrive (or sometimes not). Whatever; the prospective flow of appealing advents and evocations feels nearly ceaseless (given free time). A telic cohering of projectivities stays flexible. The generativity of conceptual gardening appears to have no ending. I’ll die happily while gardening.

Next: playgrounding: genuineness as scenic minding for living fruitfully.

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  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis