Filed in Arts & Culture

Saved From Freezing

The Spirituality of Art

Norman Fischer

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currents and portends
so many tears in the bogs
the rabbis continue to contend
and Syliva—where is Sylvia?—
who is Sylvia?

reward perhaps for the horses
around here, they look Korean
as only Chinese horses can

and cleaning up round the corners
myself the famous poet no one's heard of
except to say there was a rumor

he was a poet, had crossed the line
in bridge when he came to that page
a monk tossed like a ball
in the streaming bumpy current

left with th eproblem of the practice
of how not to have faith in anything
sufficient regard
of course so as long as Jack agrees
and as long as the night is red


From Slowly But Dearly, © 2004 by Norman Fischer. Reprinted with the permission of Chax Press.

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wilnerj's picture

Fantasy is driven by desire. Rather than an attempt to avoid desire it is its manifestation. And fantasy is part of the imagination. The pursuit of art can be very egoistic closing one's self off from others.

kcwd50's picture

Thank you, this is wonderful. The distinction between fantasy and imagination is particularly helpful, one which it took me a long time to discern and which caused me a lot of suffering in my youth--you nailed it.

summerleaf's picture

Thank you for this, it helps a lot. Creativity is ultimately what helps me connect with others, and this is why the creative process seems so desparately important to me that I could never give it up, even while wallowing in a tradition that tells me to "accept what is" rather than embellish or add my own story to it.

cobham's picture

Very glad the author shared his experience :)

I didn't really understand the part where he says: "Imagination draws its energy from a confrontation with desire. It feeds off desire, transmuting and magnifying reality through desire's power."
I hope someone will be kind enough to explain it to me.

marginal person's picture

I think the author is saying desire is an intense, uncomfortable energy. The imagination feeds off this energy to create art .The imagination doesn't avoid the discomfort of desire but uses it's energy to transform our every day world into something "luminous and significant".
He writes that fantasy avoids the discomfort of desire by escaping reality and engaging in "a crude form of wish fulfillment"
That's my take on the meaning of the passage, I hope it's helpful..

wilnerj's picture

Yes, it almost sounds like he is drawing from the poet of Aesthetic Realism Eli Siegel.

Dominic Gomez's picture

As an artist I find imagination and fantasy are the same thing. Both uplift you from the harsh reality of samsara.

marginal person's picture

"We want to be frozen even as we long fervently to thaw".
Interesting that Dante"s 9th and final circle of hell, reserved for the betrayers of trust, is a vast plain of ice. Satan resides here , frozen to the waist in the ice,trapped for eternity.

jackelope65's picture

My wife is an artist and while I was at work, often 14-16 hours, I might call her 2-3 times during that period. When she has delved deeply into her art, she thought why is he calling me so frequently, when actually calls may be 4-8 hours apart. She has lost the small "I" who keeps track of time with no true dualistic separation from all that surrounds her. This type of experience has occurred to me with medical codes, surgery, and writing my own poetry. It is of no surprise that art can improve our immune systems, reduce stress, and improve our general health and longevity, as we truly do not "lose" time. Singing in the car or shower with reckless abandon similarly loses the small "I" unless singing "I, me, me, mine____" with John Lennon. Yet, I can not truly separate this experience from deep meditation, no longer needing the breath, but just aware.

toonteo's picture

Very artistically explaining the needs for art
Thank you so much

Danny's picture

These beautiful and profound lines from the poem "July Mountain", by Wallace Stevens:

We live in a constellation
Of patches and of pitches,
Not in a single world,
In things said well in music,
On the piano and in speech,
As in the page of poetry-
Thinkers without final thoughts
In an always incipient cosmos.

Shubhangi Karnik's picture



Dominic Gomez's picture

Picasso said art is a lie that tells the truth. For Buddhists enlightenment to this truth is sustained through faith.

mikkigriffin's picture

This brilliant article reminded me why I read poetry and visit museums and artists' studios. Those encounters with rich imaginations keep something alive and perhaps growing inside, something that bumps into the thud of fantasy. Thank you.