THE EYE OF THE ARTIST
By A Student
Michael Angelo could see the completed statue in a block of marble.
In a sense that is true of every artist. And of the inventor, and the architect, and of every one who undertakes to translate the invisible Idea into symbolic, visible performance.
The work of art lives in the inner vision of the artist, before he creates it in terms of beauty for our vision. The completed mechanism is in the mind of the inventor; the standing structure in the brain of the architect.
In the finest sense, you too, can cultivate and achieve the eye of the artist.
You can see the image of the perfect in the rudest, crudest, coarsest personality. You can—if you can. You can, if you choose!
* * *
A dearly beloved friend, living in an old quarter of New York, was looking out of a top story window into the little open space which serves as the shabby survival of a metropolitan park.
The bright day had brought out the sordid population of human relics and wrecks which usually possess the benches when the weather permits.
The beloved loving one, looking down with pity upon the hulks sunning themselves there, experienced a vision.
She saw, from out the besotted hulk of a man, a beautiful figure emerge glorious and resplendent. There he stood, conquering and to conquer.
* * *
On the next bench sat what to outward seeming was a ragged hag, a prostitute grown too horribly unattractive for her calling.
In the sunshine of love and seeing from a height, our spiritual artist summoned from the body of that "fallen" one, a spirit of loveliness—a rare and radiant maiden, all loveliness and hope.
Then the creative eye ranged the benches and everywhere achieved its wonder-work of re-creation and rebuilding.
In each case, she was able to see the image of the Perfect, which the folly and weakness of the person observed succeeded in obscuring to less sympathetic eyes and in hiding even from his or her own inner sight.
* * *
Of course, only Love and its cousin, Pity, and its close kin, forgiveness, can look on human life with such creative vision.
It must have been with such eyes that the spirit of Jesus looked out upon the Magdalene and saw only that she had loved much and therefore was to be forgiven much.
Such loving eyes can afford to refuse the evidence of the senses, because the object of their sight is illumined by the glory of inner vision.
* * *
Doubtless, there are those who are likely to think you foolish because you would rather find beauty in others where these wise folks see ugliness so easily.
Partly, at least, this is because it requires some effort of mind and spirit to become expert in the quest of beauty. First of all, you must learn to respect deeply your own immortal soul. And, then, you will know yourself an open-eyed child of the All-Seeing One.
Thus you will clean and clear the window through which your seeing spirit looks out upon the world. All smudge, mist and blur of prejudice and unsympathy will be wiped from its surface, and you will see and know your fellows as you see and know yourself—a deathless being of infinite potency in beauty, wisdom, power.
* * *
The idea of deep-seeing faith in man's infinitude of possibility, the American Seer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, has expressed throughout his poem, "The Sphinx," but especially in the lines:
"The Lethe of Nature
Can't trance him again
Whose Soul sees the perfect
Which his eyes seek in vain."
Let not the outward appearance of others deceive you—any more than you would wish to be judged by your own outward appearance. From the depth of self-knowledge —let your soul know the depths of all souls; and from peak of aspiration —let your spirit hail all spirits on their heights.
Thus you become a creative artist calling forth —worth and beauty in our human world, and you know the creator's joy in looking upon your work and saying: "Behold, it is good!"
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