When we were in Vienna I met two Cubans named 'Jose Vasquez'. One was our host, Anne's old playing partner on viola da gamba. He'd been a medical student at the time, but since then had realized he needed to play the gamba full time, had quit medical school (and by the time Anne searched for him) established a working museum where antique instruments could be loaned out to appropriate musicians. http://www.orpheon.org/OldSite/Seiten/Abra/bienvenido.htm

 

The other Vazquez was visiting the Friends Meeting in Vienna; he was a painter doing a goodwill cultural tour on behalf of the government our gambist friend detested. His style of painting was 'decadent', disapproved by the Party, an art he had not been encouraged to practice. He had persisted relentlessly, spent years in a labor camp being forced to be useful... and still painted that same decadent way! Neither Anne nor I could appreciate the works he'd brought to show.

 

But when we listened to him speak (through an interpreter) about the way he worked, I was whacked by an insight: The rather homely objects before him were not the object of his work. His work was the struggle with each canvas,  striving to resolve the tension between his original inspiration, the materials he had to work with, the marks he'd already made there. So far as we understood (or misunderstood) each other, he agreed.

 

A 'leading' might not always mean an inspiration of vast consequence in the world. Over my years of puzzling & working into the question: What are we humans here for? -- "Making beauty with God" looks to be an essential piece of the answer. Motivations? -- Those can be quite mixed. [In my case, I suspect a touch of ADD at work: http://sneezingflower.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-self-disclosure-of-g... ] We say a person has 'a Gift' when their products are miraculously wonderful. But what about the yearning itself -- which may have many obstacles between its realization and the abilities, stage of development, available materials, knowledge & skills of the person afflicted -- and blessed -- by it.

When I used to frequent open poetry readings, I noticed something about "bad" (sometimes Truly Awful) poets: They had a great deal to learn (and tremendous resistance to learning it) before they'd have much worth saying or the skill to say it. But that call, that relationship between themselves and their art, seemed much the same.

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