Have you ever pondered over the power of private contemplation and solitary engagement? No two people share the same interpretations- be it aesthetically or literally. Since time immemorial, there has been a recurring belief that the best art, the most true and meaningful, is made by those who remain aloof.
Artists need distance to create art, a solitary existence, an escape from the monotony and hustle-bustle of day-to-day life. They avoid the clutches of comforts and luxuries, fashion and desire to create art. Arthur O’Shaughnessy said that the artists remain- “Wandering by the lone sea breakers, Sitting by the desolate streams.”
This idea has encompassed not just creators, but also performers, interpreters and audiences. The silence in the room as you read through a poem or examine a print, or have a look at a vibrant canvas, isn’t absence. It is the presence of undivided attention and focus. Art forms, such as poetry, which earlier generations may have contemplated privately, have undergone massive transformation, like poetry slams.
Do you ever feel a river moving in you, a joy, when you read a book and feel like you are the protagonist? Being able to relate, speaks volumes about the quality of art. The ecstasy of listening to a poem in a room full of people is not even half as that of reading it to oneself, no matter how relatable it is.
Owing to the outbreak of Covid-19, it will be a long time before we enjoy the arts as a form of social bonding once again. The substitutes of the collective experience of art are a stopgap, but does anyone want them to become a perpetual replacement of experiencing art in the company of others?
Now that one avenue (collective contemplation) is mostly closed off to us, let’s explore the richness of the other (private examination). What is your take on private contemplation? Make sure you tell us in the comments below.