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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

The Unpredictable Service of Art

By on February 22, 2009

Foolish Sage friend blogger Paul Burkhart recently shared this quote from an interview with poet Joe Weil:

Art is self-indulgence that, if done well, with a good grasp of the craft, and with a sense of constructive dread, ends up serving others. Of course, you can’t predict how it will serve them. . . A poet must be faithful to his or her obsessions. . . The wrong kind of self indulgence is that which puts the artist or his cause ahead of the work. Poets must be both supremely arrogant and humble. Arrogant enough to commit an act of creation. Humble enough to get out of the way of their own work, and let it be whatever it really is.

I thought the quote threw an interesting light on the theme of this blog: the way in which a creative act takes on a life of its own in a different context. Weil calls this part of the “humility” of an artist. As much as the creator might want to hold on to the created work as his/her own, and for it to bring glory to him/herself, in the end, once it gets out, it ends up serving other means for those who behold it.



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