August 15, 2012

Art and Love, Existentialists in a World of Change

"Art is love." Somerset Maugham

Waiting on the World to Change
by John Mayer
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me and all my friends, we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and there's no way we ever could.
now we see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it.
we just feel
like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it
so we keep waiting, waiting on the world to change.
we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change

it's hard to beat the system when we're standing
at a distance so we keep waiting. waiting on the world to change
now if we had the power to bring our neighbors home from war
they would have never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on their door and when
you trust your television what you get is what you got
cause when they own the information, oh
they can bend it all they want that's why we're waiting
waiting on the world to change.

we keep on waiting.
waiting on the world to change
it's not that we don't care, we just
know that the fight ain't fair.
so we keep on waiting waiting on the
world to change and we're still waiting,
waiting on the world to change.
we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change

Author and poet, Somerset Maugham a prominent, early-mid twentieth century writer and poet most famous for the 1915 novel, Of Human Bondage, tells a tale of a young man, Philip Carey, orphaned and raised by an aunt and uncle. He grows in their home and leaves to find his way in the world. He has many experiences. The book is set in England and quite lengthy, coming in at about 600 pages. By about page 200, we find its young subject deep into the quest for meaning, purpose and love. Philip sets himself to learn the purpose of his life, what love is to him. After struggles and some failed attempts to start a career, Paris calls out like a Siren to him. He feels the pull of Art.
Not long after he arrives, Philip finds himself drinking it all in; the Left Bank, the people, the French culture, the free spirit of the Parisian capital is in stark contrast to London; the reader follows him through his  adventures there. He meets many persons, some odd, some bold. Many set him to thinking. One tells him, 'art is love.' He considers this in light of the more familiar, 'god is love.' The reader learns that this novel is actually something of Maugham's autobiography. 

Philip recounts his own early experiments in life, and what he discovers is what Maugham called, 'the artistic temperament.' Emotionally the young man comes to see not a desire to be invisible; he more wishes to risk for freedom in both the emotional and physical planes to engage in his art. Art, he finds, also requires courage and honesty in the pursuit of beauty, the thing he craves. The book is also an exploration of 1915 Europe in which society was for many, personally constricting.

This novel is striking in the Simple mind; it was written by someone who lived a century before and still, today, many of the themes examined are current and intently debated by artists. There is a strong spiritual theme throughout the book with the linking of love and art. It brings to mind the vast Vatican collection, a trove of art so large.
'Let us love one another; for in love, there is god. God is love.'

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