Looking at Robert Henri’s forward to The Art Spirit, written June 1923:
Many students have asked for this book, and that is the reason the fragments which are its composition have been brought together.
I wonder if Henri had more than a few ‘eureka’ moments when he was compiling those fragments? So often, I’ll rediscover an old thought in a new way when we meet again, as if my brain wasn’t wearing glasses the first time around. From time-to-time I transpose another one of my journals into a Word doc, and then into Scrivener to sort the themes. With more than 500 pages of affirming quotations, insightful book segments, favorite recipes and the like, I wonder if I have more useful information that I can possibly hope to use? But then, the ‘index’ function still eludes me, so maybe I’m just missing the trees for the forest?
No effort has been made toward the form of a regular book. In fact, the opinions are presented more as paintings are hung on the wall, to be looked at at will and taken as rough sketches for what they are worth. If they have a suggestive value and stimulate to independent thought they will attain the object of their presentation.
And this is the essence of art: the attempt to communicate! Created by the master Creator, we have an inherent need to connect through our creativity. I have seen that the most depressed individuals are those who feel cut off and unable to be understood. The very thing that unites us—a connection—when that falls short, isolates them.
What if Robert Henri hung his opinions on the wall and nobody came to the expo? I have to say here that I value his words far more than his portraits. Frankly, I find them rather creepy. I’m ready to spend as long as possible in the gallery of his opinions.
There are many repeats throughout the work, many times the same subject is taken up and viewed from a different angle or seen in relation to other matters.
This is what I find so intriguing in my journals; that in the 10 years that I have been more diligently recording my ephemeron, I keep coming back to the same scenarios. The God who wants to transform my life won’t settle for an untrained, sloppy servant. We’re meant to be victors in this life, not victims. I don’t know that I ever had a more realistic scenario than through Dennis Peacocke’s series, Living Life God’s Way. As a martial arts Dan, he knows more than enough about discipline and training in self-defense, and this translates directly into our new life in Christ. We’re not meant to be constantly defeated by our shortcomings. We’re intended to learn to rule, therefore God not only allows us to stumble, He’ll put obstacles in our path so that we’ll ask Him to teach us. By golly, and all this time I’ve been wondering why life’s so painful and difficult! It all makes sense now!
When I was cowering in corners and turning every available cheek to the bullies, I was closing my eyes and covering my ears to the Master trainer. His lessons begin with demanding courage to risk new lessons, and to learn new ways of meeting the old challenges.
That’s why the journal is such a useful roadmap. Receptivity to the LORD’s direction is the compass, pointing to ‘true north’ on the path to life.
At the end there is a complete index which will make up for the absence of chapters and sections and the general scarcity of headings.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had this option in our lives? As I said, the journal will help you to see the cyclical direction of your life, but imagine the possibilities if you could categorize your strengths and weaknesses!
There is no idea that anyone should agree with any of the comments or that anyone would follow the advice given. If they irritate to activity in a quite different direction it will be just as well. The subject is beauty—or happiness, and man’s approach to it is various.
That is the whole point, isn’t it? That we’re all just trying to be happy. ‘Beauty’ is another subject of Art, and we’ve seen the divergence. Are these goals to be achieved? Beauty, happiness, anything your heart desires…the lust for life is in the pursuit. Once attained, the attraction often dims.
There’s something more, and that’s eternal life. Not necessarily in your immortal soul of the Great Ever After. What really matters is NOW, and now is timeless. Is what you’re doing and thinking giving you life that is lasting, or does it lead to regret? As Henri wrote, if these comments irritate to activity,is it an activity that will improve the condition of humanity? If so, then that’s your immortality here and now. Let the future take care of itself, what are you doing to live forever today?