A painter, a sculptor or crafter of beauty–
A singer, a dancer or maker of music,
A magician of words, a teller of tales, a master of the senses,
Surely, these are artists.
Do you extend life with a scalpel, an army, a microscope, a touch?
Are you a good father? A good girl? A good enemy? A good you?
Does ‘good’ matter to this conversation?
Ah, the fly-fisher. Now that’s an artist, isn’t it?
What about the mailman, the clergyman, the Santa-man?
And all of the ‘ers’, ‘ors’, ‘ists’ and ‘icians’?
Today, I’m wondering about such matters. What makes an artist?
Am I an artist?
And this, from David Whyte, entitled, Naming, from his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words:
We name mostly in order to control but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling. In many ways love has already named us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened to us or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult art of all, to love without naming at all.
Let me know what you think.
I’ve always felt a bit embarrassed admitting this, but among my Top Ten Favorite books has always been the Oxford English Dictionary aka OED. It’s not an item found in most libraries as it’s rather expensive. Comprising 20 thick volumes, it takes up several shelves worth of space. And most dear to my librarian’s heart, it not only provides extensive definitions for terms, it also provides as complete an etymology of each word as possible. Unlike as in the olden days, it now has an electronic counterpart.
Even more embarrassing, I’ve spent many a happy afternoon word-spelunking within the extended boundaries of this amazing work, searching for beloved words and ways to define, or redefine, the world. Truly, the OED is a world in itself! Nonetheless, words constantly evolve with some expanding, some contracting, and some hurtling into obsolescence.
Your post is, to me, a wonderful reminder that my beloved OED is not a bible, but rather only a guide. ‘Naming’ can be so convenient, so confining, and in some cases, so deadly. Conversely, ‘naming’ can also be liberating, e.g., in the case of having the ability to define and articulate one’s own, or another’s, oppression. Systems of oppression depend on their victims being inarticulate… Yet, I cannot disagree with you. As you say, “To love without naming at all” is, indeed, “the most difficult art.” There are few experiences more liberating than to have someone look at you and see not stereotypes, but possibilities and promise. I, too, want to love and be loved in this way.
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