Art & a sublime neutrality

“…the greatest artists attain a sublime neutrality.” —Susan Sontag

Why neutrality?

1. Because it helps us see what we wouldn't otherwise. Art expands our vision if it's doing its job right, and a single work of art that sustains an impartiality to the world it reports on is able to offer immediate 20/20 vision, while any art that arises from an attachment to right/wrong (of what or whom) is limited in what it can give by its clinging to a facet of the truth, whether unwitting or calculated. A book cannot grant you a more complete vision of what is if its own willingness to see is crippled by bias or agenda.

2. Because the perceived fixity of the world is mere illusion. Things alter before our very gaze—indeed, because of it! claim the scientists. And so the notion of subjectivity becomes sublime, and surpasses the cult of objectivity in its beauty, i.e. its faithfulness to the human experience.

3. Because (and I'm getting a little personal here, but bear with me): nothing under the sun is not deserving of our nonjudgmental look. A real look I mean, the kind that comes from your body and through your eyes, that is locked in a sort of quiet willingness to be open in every way, relinquishing (if for a moment) what we think we know. Because this is the kind of observation under which all things flower and reveal to us something tender. You need only to root yourself in this holy and silent receptivity, and things start to unfold. And if you struggle to access this true gaze, then you can reach for art, that human gift that facilitates this true seeing, for many others struck by the beauty and sadness and mystery of our condition have left us books and art through which we might expand our vision, if we want a better look.