“A cage went in search of a bird”….not mine, sadly. The intellectual property of Franz Kafka, one of the world’s chosen few who thought for a living.
It came to mind after reading your most recent, and in fact, several of your previous reflections. This concept of stalking that ghostly, elusive piece of expression that separates those innately masterful from, well, the rest. An inspired idea. An entrancing image. An arrangement of notes that effortlessly strike at the soul. The something that in the clutter of our lives makes us pause for a moment, and forget ourselves.
In this flippant, throw-away world these gifts are increasingly rare. We generate appealing images. We flood the airwaves with contrived and auto-tuned collaborations which are designed to be little more than a distraction, until we sell the next one….and the next.
Thing is, the burning question in my mind has always been… was true art ever meant to be sold? Traded? Marketed?
Case in point, the cage, the bird. The bird is revered because it is free and real, and radiant in it’s natural space. So, like all objects of beauty, it ignites in us a desire to contain and own it, yet the moment we achieve this, the bird is rendered valueless. This puts advertising into a truly paradoxical space, much like the Kafka aphorism. How does one stimulate raw, naive, artistic innovation and not destroy it by making it a commodity. Or perhaps that’s giving advertisers a little too much prestige? It struck me that advertising could very well be the cage itself.
I strongly believe that the creations beyond value in this world have all been born of a burning passion so compelling to the artist that they toiled relentlessly to give life and form to an object of such rare significance that it’s perfect delivery was simply not optional, and that no sacrifice nor expense would be too great a burden. Death itself would have been a simple inconvenience. These were not ideas to be taken to market. In fact, many a starving artist perished in the cold darkness of poverty and irrelevance not because their audience were not yet sophisticated enough to receive them, but because the very genius they were cursed with gave them the inclination that the divine essence of the force that drove them would be rendered valueless if put out for public consumption. Kafka himself instructed a friend to burn all of his writings upon his death. I guess he just didn’t want his little bird to be caged. His friend, of course, industriously defied him giving us access to his deepest personal reflections. Now Kafka’s a thing. He wouldn’t have minded, right.
Written by my sister,