One of my heroes is Mustafa Kemal also known as Atatürk, meaning ‘Father Turk’. For those who know the history of the first ANZACS he was a Turkish Colonel in charge of defending the Gallipoli Peninsula against British invasion in 1915. He was a remarkable man in his own right.
A long time ago I read “Birds without Wings” by Louis de Bernières the prequel to the better-known book “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” which details the beginnings (albeit) in novel form about the early Kemal. That’s how I found out about Kemal and thought he was fiction. A friend told me ‘no he’s real alright’…So I dug further and found “Atatürk” by Lord Kinross (Published by Morrow, 1965) and it’s one of those great books that I’ve started to read again after a 10-year absence. Kemal was very quotable he said ‘A nation devoid of art and artists cannot have a full existence.’ It’s true. But how is that Implemented? To use town planning parlance. And what does that even mean?
Art doesn’t just happen over a glass of red wine.
The artist – visual artist, performing artist, writing artist, must have a problem to solve and then demonstrate how it is resolved. It’s Logic in a creative way. Creativity is the missing link between action and mark making in newspapers, music sheets, canvas, twitters, texting, and even words written as law. Virginia Wolfe said in a rare recorded interview ‘Words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind’. In other words, use those words, pictures, images. Or as Wayne Bennett’s book is titled…“Don’t Die with the Music in You”.
Creativity is the missing link between cause and effect. Our creative nature binds all the logic and fact we naturally gravitate towards. Kemal said “Science is the most reliable guide in life.” That’s true. Yet that search, for ‘fact’ or ‘scientific fact’, at the same time repels us further into a state of non-knowing: Like trying to catch Whiting in a swell with your bare hands. The fish and the water are real. But the fish keep just out of reach teasing you to move into deeper waters: The water at the same time magnifying the fish and distorting the field-depth vision. Circa 1987 Cylinder Beach. Our creative nature is that undefined time and space between the hands and the fish.
When Kemal said that ‘A nation devoid of art and artists cannot have a full existence’ I don’t think he was referring to a little section of the country set aside for arty types. His vision was broader – it always was. In each of us is a creator. WHAT! Yes. You may be a business owner, fisherman, engineer, accountant, bureaucrat, writer, painter. If you are passionate about what you do – if it fulfils you then you’re creating…and you are truly alive.
When you create it is Genius! Steven Pressfield in his book “The War of Art” (Black Irish Books, 2002) talks about Genius. Roughly paraphrased, ‘Not the way we use the word today. But the way Ancient Romans defined the word. We, each of us have our own unique Genius’. It is ‘our inner spirit, holy and inviolable’, ‘watching over is, and guiding us….’ And ‘It’s our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our BEING IN POTENTIAL , our star’s beacon and POLARIS.’ ‘Everyone who creates, operates from this sacramental centre.’ (Pressfield 2002:15).
Is it hard to work on your Genius. My oath it is. It wouldn’t be worth it otherwise.