Eternal Poet

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Being Understood as an “artist”

In artists, inspirational on May 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Make yourself understood. You must explain your message if you want your message to reach the everyman.  It’s okay if you have to explain your art to others. You shouldn’t be offended to the point when you just walk out of the room because someone questions your work of art.

Jesus, although frustrated with those who didn’t understand a parable, still took the moment to explain it. Nowadays, you hear about several artists who don’t want to explain their work. Many artists have their post-modern artistic reason to oppose explaining themselves to the so called public. Post Modern artists say, “my work should speak for itself.” Andy Warhol even said something similar about himself, “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.”

True, art speaks on behalf of its artist. As Heidegger says, “The artist is the origin of the work. The work is the origin of the artist. Neither is without the other” (Poetry, Language, Thought, p17). But to fully get the motive or “point” of your work an intimate understanding must be explained directly from you.

British rock band Radiohead explained in an interview with National Public Radio the process in making their album King of Limbs. Although, a short interview, it gave me much more appreciation for the album and for their approach to the creative process of songwriting. Whenever you hear a commentary on a dvd/blue ray, do you tend to have a better understanding of the film? Insight into art, creates a better appreciation for the artist.

“I don’t believe in optimism.”

In artists, inspirational on May 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm

If you’re seeking inspiration, then look no further than The Paris Review. You must read the interview with Ray Bradbury. Here’s one quote from the the interview that blew me away:

I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago. I had some wonderful Swedish meatballs at my mother’s table with my dad and my brother and when I finished I pushed back from the table and said, God! That was beautiful. And my brother said, No, it was good. See the difference?

So what can you do and are you doing it? Read more from the interview with Ray Bradbury as well as other interviews from great writers at the following: http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews

Citizen in the Nation of Artists

In artists on May 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

After the Israelites left Egypt, Moses led them into the wilderness. For 40 years they didn’t have a homeland, but they were still considered a nation. So a nation doesn’t have to have borders. A nation can be people with the same beliefs.

i live in a nation of artists. We all live under the same artistic laws. We all live within the same mindset which could be considered borders. We all have the same patriotic spirit known as passion for artistic endeavors. Artists around the world connect through familiarity with expression. Listen to the Great Commission:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Jesus). Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28: 18-20

How do you incorporate your artistry with the Great Commission? Instinctively, as a follower of Jesus, you are commissioned to influence culture! You are commissioned to GO! There is art in every culture. From the birth of art with Adam and Eve to the Chauvet cave, to Stonehenge, to the temples of Egypt, sculptures of Greece and Rome to the next project in your imagination, this nation of artists is forever expanding.

Your influence from the past and your impact on future artists holds purpose. You’re a citizen in the nation of artists. Don’t forget that you’re also a citizen of heaven too (Philippians 3:20).

Live to Outlive Your Name

In book, Paul J. Matta on May 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm

i just completed a book entitled: “What Were They Thinking?”.  i’d like to say that i had no intention of ever writing a book about the imagination of God, Adam, Eve and Jesus until i started writing it. Does that make any sense? As of now, it’s not going to be published. Would i like it too? Of course. It’s a special kind of book though – i categorize it “theological-philosophical fiction”. And let me tell you it will inspire your creative senses!

Family and friends have been asking me how long it took me to write it. And i really don’t know how to answer this. In a literal sense, i slammed down 75% of all the words to it in October 2011. From then until the end of April 2012, i tweaked it, did lots of rewriting and currently have 40,864 words (subject to change).

What Lessons Did i Learn From The Writing Process:

The best lesson i learned from writing about this book, aside from the way i think, is “SEEK AND YOU’LL FIND”. There were many times when i painted myself into a corner. i’d pray to God to help me out of those predicaments. Many times, the answers to these prayers led me to books, new authors, past authors and to the space in between scripture. New revelations and insights were given to me about scriptures that i’d read a million times. i pressed on until i could finally use the paint around me to create a visual image. Then i’d translate my imaginings into words.

What Music Did i Listen To While Writing:

i only listened to Jesus Culture Band. There was never a moment when writing this book that i listened to any other music; or at least to music that inspired writing. i tried to listen to my favorites: Bob Dylan, Radiohead, etc. But they just didn’t inspire the words.

Why Did i Write This Book If Not For A Publishing Deal:

i wrote it for artists. i want artists to know where the heritage of the imagination came from. i’m strictly speaking of artists as image bearers of God. i invested countless hours of research, prayer and sitting behind the laptop to come up with – what i think is – a cohesive message about why God gave the imagination to us. We can learn a ton about this from Adam and Eve and the first three chapters of Genesis. There is a lesson in my book. It’s message drove me to sacrifice sleep for the sake of writing. The more i came across other Creatives during research, i.e. George MacDonald, Francis Schaffer, etc., the more i was inspired to write on this most unusual topic. i had to write because i was inspired to write. Other artists fueled my mind and so i couldn’t waste the gasoline on an idle engine. If there’s fuel for the imagination then i must access the creative process. i must travel into new revelations. i created a work of art. i further believe art is made to inspire. i write to inspire other Creatives. i had to write it. i feel like i didn’t have a choice.

Do i Plan On Writing Other Books:

i already have two more books in the works. Like this one, these books to come will be written to inspire the imagination of believers and of course of the artist. Overall, i’m an artist’s artist. i can’t relate to everyone, but those whom i will relate to are artists. i believe they understand me and that i understand them. We understand each other and the power of art. Time can only stop me from writing. But Time can’t stop others from reading what i wrote. Written words, and art in general stay behind us as we enter the great beyond. i refuse to die with any ideas in my head. i hope you do too. Remember, “Live to outlive your name.”

Jesus’ Imagination Revealed

In Imagination, Jesus on May 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Adam was already in a sinless world and still had the ability to sin. Jesus was in a sinful world and had the ability to remain sinless. Adam’s imagination had no capacity to think of an evil alternative reality because he didn’t know good and evil.

Jesus’ imagination knew of both the evil and the righteous realities which could come from mankind. Like Adam’s imagination in the garden, Jesus’ imagination was still very creative. The parables he taught are proof enough that even in a sinless body, within a sinful world, that the imagination can still be highly active.

John the apostle tells a story of when guards were sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to seize Jesus but couldn’t. Instead of arresting Jesus, the guards had found themselves listening to His sermon. This particular sermon roused questions of whether He was the Christ.

When the guards reported back to the chief priests and Pharisees without having arrested Jesus, they didn’t encounter a warm welcome. They were bombarded with the question, “Why didn’t you bring him in” (John 8:45)? The guards’ reply really distinguishes our Lord. They replied, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 8:46). Talk about hitting the nail on it’s head! With these words, the guards summed up Jesus’ imagination.

Why Not Go Skinny Dipping?

In Adam and Eve on May 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Did Adam and Eve’s imaginations lead them to visualize a life apart from God? Did they allow their imaginations to dwell on the forbidden tree? If so, was it this dwelling which led Eve to get within vicinity of it? Were they motivated by their imaginations to travel to the middle of the Garden of Eden where the Tree of Life and the forbidden tree were?

Perhaps the imagination wouldn’t have become this entity for desiring an alternative state of being had Adam and Eve obeyed God. As expansive and spacious as the Garden of Eden may have been, Adam and Eve wandered within the clutches of the forbidden tree. Was it this tree’s magnetism, or their adventurous curiosity which got them within proximity of it?

Max Lucado wrote something similar to the following: if someone places a dot on a blank sheet of paper and places the paper in front of you, then your eyes will automatically be drawn to the dot. Too bad Adam and Eve couldn’t bathe in the beauty that surrounded them. Instead, they were drawn to the dot on the piece of paper: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

As it turns out, since Adam and Eve were in proximity of the forbidden tree, they were also within proximity of the Tree of Life. Genesis 2:9 tells us that in the middle of the garden stood the Tree of Life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In all the discussion about both trees, i’ve never read scripture in which God demanded they choose one fruit over the other. No mandate was established. He only set a parameter by telling Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). God set a command.

God couldn’t have been more straight forward in telling Adam he’d die. You’d think if Death is attached to something, then it would be enough to keep one’s curiosity away from that something. i wonder if Adam and Eve could fully comprehend Death. Were their imaginations active enough to foresee the consequences of disobeying a command? Did they know God well enough to take Him at His word?

There was no need for them to debate about the pros and cons of each tree. God didn’t give them a deadline to have one tree chosen by sundown. Even so, God highly encouraged Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Life by discouraging them not to eat from the forbidden tree. There’s still a question of why God didn’t intervene when they were near the evil fruit. Why did God keep His distance at that most crucial moment in Time?

This question doesn’t deserve an answer. If it had to be answered the answer would be: they should’ve just obeyed. Nicholas Wolterstorff says, “God has the right to ask obedience, man the responsibility to obey” (Art in Action, p75). It was Adam and Eve’s own will that not only gravitated them to the center of the garden but also led them into sin. Couldn’t they’ve gone for a swim? Adam or Eve should’ve suggested to go skinny dipping instead of lingering around that forbidden tree.

i may sound silly saying that, but had they pursued each other instead of the forbidden tree, they may have avoided sin. i wonder what marriage meant to them. i mean God had just given them a blessing to have sex and instead they wander through the jungle. Perhaps they were on a romantic stroll and ended up at the center of the garden.

Francis A. Schaeffer discusses the necessity of relationship in his book Genesis in Space and Time. Schaeffer writes, “Two great drives are built into man. The first is his need for a relationship to God, and the second his need for a relationship to the opposite sex” (p86). Adam’s need to be in relation with Eve and hold her captivation seemed to be a challenge for him. Adam may not have known how to interact intimately with Eve. When i think deeper into the matter, i see how he didn’t hold Eve’s attention. She got distracted and began a conversation with a snake. Did Eve play hard to get to the point where Adam decided not to get? Maybe this is how Eve found comfort in conversing with the serpent. At least the serpent gave her attention.

Then again, Adam may have intentionally taken Eve to the forbidden tree to show her which tree not to eat from. He may have naively set his own trap. Still, it comes down to the fact that they didn’t go skinny dipping. That’s a real shame!

Perfect Imagination = Sinless Mind

In Imagination on May 9, 2012 at 4:13 am

You’ve probably been asked this baffling question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, then does it make a sound?” Before you answer this, think about this one. “If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman is around to hear him, then is he still wrong?” i’m not going to answer it. But if we could ask the first couple on earth this question, they’d probably say “yes”.

Adam and Eve are such an interesting couple to think about.  Matter of fact if you had to paint them would you give them a bellybutton? This was a question of much debate back in the day. The church scrutinized Michelangelo for giving them a naval in his portraits on the Sistine Chapel. Hopefully, i’ve gotten your mind on track to think about Adam and Eve.

It was by thinking of the way Adam and Eve lived when i asked myself, “What were they thinking?” Their creative process and more specifically their imaginations changed after sin. But what were their imaginations like before sin? What is the imagination like in a sinless state of reality?

Adam and Eve are the only people, besides Jesus, to have had a perfect imagination. Perfect in the sense of sinless. Though, for Adam and Eve this window of “perfect imagination” was shut rather quickly. After they disobeyed God, their environment, as well as their bodies, and imaginations were instantly altered.

Imagination is a Canvas for God

In Imagination on May 9, 2012 at 3:25 am

We daily encounter decisions and each decision has an alternative reality. The path we choose can make or break us. That’s why it’s important to use the versatility of the imagination. It’s great to use it as a pathway to release creativity, but it’s even better to use it as a gateway into righteous living. In short, it places our feet near a threshold to avoid rash decisions. The imagination is a tool to holiness. It’s an extension of God. A sermon by revivalist Bill Johnson tells how our imagination is God’s literal canvas:

Your mind is a gift from God, to reflect, mirror, catch the thoughts, the ambitions, the imaginations of God himself. Every artist starts with a clean canvas. And your mind was created to be the canvas that God paints on. (Podcast: “See, Hear, Remember” 11/10/2011)

The sad part is that most of us are tuned out to the pictures God paints on our mind. Most Christians don’t even get as far as a smudge of color on their canvas. And others get a few brush strokes and automatically assume they have the right answer instead of waiting for the full picture from God.