wednesday, july 23, 2014

The Bit In The Teeth

There comes a moment in the life of the artist when talking about the work is in order. Sometimes, this is a moment of triumph; the words seem to flow from the lips with the same facility and ease with which the ink flows from the brush, and one wonders why he had ever wasted a moment of life in doing anything else. At other times, to put forth the effort needed to cobble together a few mere sentences of truth regarding the work to which we have devoted our very lives seems more difficult than the most back-breaking labor; the words themselves grit the tounge like a mouthful of dirt.

A.D. Sertillanges, a French Dominican priest writing in the early twentieth century in his spiritual classic, The Intellectual Life, warns us of the ‘nausea’ of work. He reminds of the that dreaded moment when our project, no matter how passionately it was conceived, suddenly loses its savor. The worker, bewildered as the initial fervor flies away, finds himself repulsed by it. He begins to doubt himself, and perhaps even to despise what he has already accomplished. These moments come. What are we to do with them?

We press on, says Sertillanges. We take the bit in the teeth. And so we artists must take the bit in the teeth in speaking about our work, and sharing it with others. We are workers after all, and we must live day to day by our labors.