Walking on Water
Among my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle is one of the top few for just such quotes as the one above. In it, she is framing the idea that the universe is chaotic but art - true art - brings order and harmony and good to a disorderly and confused world.
Today's artists would do well to keep this thought in mind. Modern art, especially in writing, holds less and less cosmos and more chaos. This is not to say that these writers don't have talent. There is skill and talent, yes, but it is becoming much more rare to find the harmony in disharmony
Andrew Pudewa, from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, gives a wonderful explanation of why in this excerpt from his article, The Art of Teaching a Skill:
"Often we link the idea of artistic activity with creativity and self-expression, but we are infected with a modernism that actually impedes the development of skills. 'If it’s creative, it’s good; if it’s good, it has to be creative,' is the dominant mantra so evident today—a tragedy so often outplayed in the fine arts departments of most universities, where the way to an A is not to draw or paint or sculpt something beautiful, but to do something that no one else has ever done before, no matter how ugly or grotesque....Imagine a method of teaching where we give the student a violin and with cursory directions on how to make a sound, encourage him to 'be creative' and 'express himself.' The result won’t much resemble music....When originality and creativity are esteemed above all else, basic skills decrease and true artistic expression becomes impossible."
Many modern writers today, in the attempt to be the most creative, end up focusing only on the ugly nature of mankind and its base impulses because no one else has done it. Even worse, some deliberately reveal chaos in chaos, glorifying
the fragmented and disordered inclinations of humanity with no uplifting
thought to turn away the darkness of broken and bent lives.
The reproduction of chaos is not art, as Madeline L'Engle writes. It is the beautiful, the orderly, the something beyond ourselves that makes the great works of art that have endured through the centuries.
As a writer, how do you reveal that greater good in your work? As an admirer of art, what is your definition of true art?