- 更新于：2020-04-29 11:17:24
The Questioner. Then the task of education in respect to them would seem to be easy!
The Artist. No—on the contrary, infinitely hard!
The Questioner. What do you mean?
[Pg 114]The Artist. I have said that children are artists and that artists are children. The task of education is to help them to grow up.
The Questioner. New difficulties!
The Artist. And tremendous ones! But if I am to discuss them, you must keep still for a while and let me talk in my own fashion.
—Very well, ladies and gentlemen. Shall we adjourn for lunch, and when we reassemble here give the Artist the platform for half an hour? What is the sentiment of the meeting? The Ayes have it.
XVII. The Artist as a Child
WITHOUT any further delay, the Artist shall now address you.—Please take the platform, sir!
“My friends! We are gathered here today to consider how to implant in the youthful and innocent minds which are entrusted to our care the beneficent and holy influences of that transcendent miracle which we know as Art. Sacred and mysterious subject that it is, we approach it with bated—”
Wait! wait! There is some mistake here, I am sure. Just a moment!—
“We approach with bated breath these austere and sacred—”
Stop, I say!
“Austere and sacred regions—”
Usher, will you please throw this fellow out! He is not the man we were listening to this morning—he is a rank impostor, who has disguised himself as an artist in order to befuddle our[Pg 116] deliberations with mystagogical cant. If you will pull off that false beard, I think you will find that he is a well-known Chautauqua lecturer.... Aha, I thought so!—Shame on you! And now get out of here as quickly as you can!—Ah, there comes the real Artist—late, as usual. What have you to say for yourself?
“I’m sorry—I got to thinking of something else, and nearly forgot to come back here. Which brings me at once to the heart of what I want to say. Artists, as I have said, are children—and, children that they are, they forget the errands upon which the world sends them. They forget, because these errands are not part of their own life. You reproach us with being careless and irresponsible—but if you will study the child at play or the artist at work, you will discover that he is not careless or irresponsible in regard to his own concerns. But this deep divorce between the concerns of the artist and the child and the concerns of the world is the tragic problem for which we now seek a solution. The world has been unable to solve it. It has only made the breach deeper.
“For the world does not know that its work can be play, that adult life can be a game like the games of children, only with more desperate[Pg 117] and magnificent issues. It does not reflect that we gather sticks in the wood with infinite happy patience and labour to build our bonfires because those bonfires are our own dream creatively realized; and it cannot think of any better way to get us to bring in the wood for the kitchen stove than to say, ‘Johnny, I’ve told you three times to bring in that wood, and if you can’t mind I’ll have your father interview you in the woodshed.’ In brief, it presents our participation in adult life as meaningless toil performed at the bidding of another under coercion. And the whole of adult life gradually takes on this same aspect. We are to do the bidding of another in office or factory because otherwise we will starve.
“So the child-artist unwillingly becomes a slave. But there are some children who rebel against slavery. They prefer to keep their dreams. They are regarded with disapproval and anxiety by their families, who tell them that they must grow up. But they do not want to grow up into slavery. They want to remain free. They want to make their dreams come true.
“‘But who will pay for your dreams?’ the world asks. And it is not pleasant to face the possibility of starving to death. And so they comfort themselves with the illusion of fame and[Pg 118] wealth. Sometimes their families are cajoled into investing in this rather doubtful speculative enterprise, and the child-artist becomes an artist-child, supported through life by his parents, and playing busily at his art. Sometimes the speculation turns out well financially, the illusion of success becomes a reality; but this, however gratifying to the artist as a justification of his career, is not his own reason for being an artist. The ‘successful’ artist has a childlike pleasure in the awe of really grown-up people at the material proofs of his importance; and if he has given hostages to fortune, if he must support a family of his own, he may ploddingly reproduce the happy accidents of his creative effort which gained him these rewards; but he feels that in so doing he has ceased to be a free man and become a slave—and all too often, as we know from the shocked comment of the world, he renounces these rewards, becomes a child at play again, and lets his wife and children get along as best they may. He yearns, perhaps, for fame—as a sort of public consent to his going on being a child. But whether he starves in the garret or bows from his limousine to admiring crowds, what he really wants of the world is just permission to play. He is not interested in the affairs of the world.