Art as metaphysics

Diana statue, Green Park, London

I have sometimes wondered whether art has any importance, and if so, what?  In more lucid moments I recognise art as the very essence of the soul, a window to consciousness.  Not only that of the artist but of our own.

Let us play, by juxtaposing the word “art” with other words of less ethereal evocation.  Politics, business, factory, terror, famine, cruelty.

Art can contain all of those, can be “about” all of those.  Art can be the outpouring of a tortured soul and often is.

But art can also be about beauty, meaning, reflection. It can be about opening the mind and re-configuring the brain to lead us from dull and worn patterns of thought towards something higher altogether.

I wrote recently about psilocybin and its role in opening the mind, making new connections.  Perhaps art can perform some of the same functions.

I was taken aback today by the statue of Diana (above) in Green Park, London.  It was a surprise – I had not expected to see it (it was new to me) and when I did it spoke of all manner of things.

Sinuous branches and golden leaves woven in twisting metal.  How like the London plane trees I was walking under and yet how different – its beauty took me from London to Lothlorien.

And from there to Narnian and Archenland, to the fauns and dryads and wood elves.  To Arcadia and to Eden.

Dryad - an illustration by Pauline Baynes for the Chronicles of Narnia
Dryad – an illustration by Pauline Baynes for the Chronicles of Narnia

The lithe elegance of the female form and that of the dog – both as curved and sinuous and beautiful as the branches and golden leaves that carry them.

So much for fantasy and yet not so.  Not a falling back to base reality, but a realisation that in base reality itself beauty can be found every bit as luminous or indeed numinous.  Our minds reflect natural beauty and the beauty of nature is reflected in our minds. The two should not be segregated.

Art can be missed altogether if you so much as blink your eye. The healing of art can be overlooked by all of us caught up in survival and the daily grind.

And yet life can itself become art; should perhaps.

It is universal, it is not just in the eye of the beholder. Like consciousness itself,  it has, maybe, a separate existence andis  a law of physics in its own right. A close relative, or perhaps derivative of consciousness.

London Plane Trees
London Plane Trees

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