DIARY OF AN ALBUM: It’s 11:50 on a beautiful Sunday morning in Brooklyn. Adriana (my partner) and I are done with morning coffee and a workout at McCarren Park, so I’m down in the studio preparing to sketch out the final track of the ten that will go on the album. I’m thinking again about why we bother making records.
At breakfast, my mind wandered back to the idea that ‘beauty will save the world.’ The quote, from a character, Prince Myshkin, in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is one that he never actually says – it’s just described by other characters.
“Look here, once for all,” cried Aglaya, boiling over, “if I hear you talking about capital punishment, or the economical condition of Russia, or about Beauty redeeming the world, or anything of that sort, I’ll—well, of course I shall laugh and seem very pleased, but I warn you beforehand, don’t look me in the face again!
How does beauty redeem the world? My mind wandered to the preface of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray which I’ve always loved.
“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.”
Two of the greatest writers in history discussing beauty, and yet, one can ask “what is beauty.”? Is it not in the eye of the beholder? Is it not just a social construct of the power structure that exists in a given society?
Perhaps, the aim is not the end but the journey. To set about to create art, not purely for money, fame, self-aggrandizement, but to attempt to create something beautiful that reflects something of the spirit, emotions and experience of the artist. I’m certainly guilty of desiring money, fame and recognition and I definitely know the state of creating art that ‘has to do something’ like appeal to a certain demographic, person, record company etc.
But there are moments when I’m working on a production, learning a piece of music or performing it, when I forget about myself, the past, and anxieties about the future and exist in the present. The music and creative process flow. These instances are like finding a beautiful spring in a desert. They’re moments of joy – the light that illuminates the darkness and connects to something larger. Losing yourself in creation, as C.S. Lewis wrote, gives one “a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live.”
“Joy,” as C.S. Lewis concluded. “ is the serious business of heaven” and thus brings a little piece of the divine down to this world. Is that not the pattern of redemption?