Word and World: Artist and Audience

I am in my here and now, writing.  You are in your here and now, reading.  And yet somehow these words connect us.  I am still not sure what the relationship between the artist and the audience is.  As an artist, if you think about the audience while you are actually “doing IT” this seems a distraction.  The IT must be your entire focus.  Yet something does happen by way of extraordinary rapport.  Audience and artist seem elevated into some third condition of being, inclusive of the two, but synergistically much, much greater.  The conjuring forth of this third, more inclusive entity is amazing enough when audience and artist are in the same proximity: a pianist, for example, with her audience in a concert hall.  But when audience and artist are separated byspace and time, as in the case of writing and reading, we seem to enter into the body of a miraculous transpersonal being, confined neither to body, nor to space, nor to time, but somehow effecting a nonlocal rapport that moves us as much as a lover’s touch. 

The first time I consciously realized this was when a couple of soprano friends of mine wanted to create a performance piece with a few of my poems.  In the audience, as they performed, I had the strange sensation of hearing something that had I created, but not from the point-of-view of the creator.  Writing a poem is like being in the eye of a hurricane, everything is extremely calm, and yet emotions and thoughts are flying with tremendous velocity all around you.  In the audience, I experienced that emotional velocity in a way that I never had as the creator.  You could say I felt the poetry’s force, whereas before I was totally one with that potency, and did not feel it as a thing exterior to myself.  Since the poetry was me, it did not impinge upon me.  Yet when it came to me from the outer, not the inner environment, the affect was almost overwhelming.  Then I thought: "This is what the audience experiences when that connection is made.”  I don’t however think that this is something that the artist “does.”  I think the experience emerges spontaneously from the field effect of artist/audience.

Field effects, as we know from even an elementary understanding of current theories in physics, are nonlocal, and elsewhere in these postings I have referred to such wierdnesses as intrusions of 4th-dimensional effects into our 3-dimensional world. (New Ideas About the Fourth Dimension Parts One and Two)  If that is so, we can see that the unity which we experience as artist and audience cannot be said to have originated in the artist’s personal imagination and then transmitted to the audience.  In the unified 4th-dimensional space, the two — audience and artist — are one, and the audience has much to do with what an artist calls his or her inspiration.  In other words, you, as audience, in your space and time, join with me, as artist, in my space and time, not only when you read these words, but also as I write them.  In a sense, we each go out of our minds, so that we may both be one in the field of Creative Mind.

Let me illustrate further.  I recently served as a page-turner for a pianist friend, where she gave an extraordinary performance of one of Bach’s partitas.  At some point, transported by the pianist’s performance and Bach’s music, I left my body, and traveled to some Bachian Heaven sustained now by who knows how many performers and listeners.  The next day I wrote the following poem, which seemed somehow to come from that place that paradoxically is no place at all.


Sonata Without Sound©

Written October 17th, 2013


If when we try to string together

These long, ecstatic moments of first light,

These spirits, clothed in white, who trail

Their platinum shine through our stunned minds,

Dragging night shadows with them as they move,

If we should see what happens when sound grows silence,

Collected into beings, no part of us,

Except that part now purified by bliss,

If here, just here and now, in this sky palace

Of the non-existent, precise particular,

We should, for these moments, extract ourselves from flesh,

And being nothing, join them as they dance,

All intricate, burgeoning brightness,

Each holding a certain note of a certain pitch,

And stepping with a certain rhythmic step,

Then we would know what breathes beyond the noise,

Then, being nothing, we might rest in joy.


Pianist, poem, Bach, listeners, readers: together they produce what St. Augustine called radiance, a perfect stasis of perfected mutual emotions, wherein art shines with a celestial transparence.

Yet, as wondrous as this merging is when it expresses as art, it may be that this same effect also radiates from the teacher/student relationship, and from the relationship of healer to healed.  The effect may derive from the parent/child relationship, especially when the mother cares for the child and the two form that bond of provider and provided for, which we call “Providential” when we speak of it as the Divine.  Often this radiance arises in the form of what C.G. Jung called “synchronicities,” in which a person or persons and their environment merge into what suddenly functions as one sentient thing.  Since these events seem a-causal, we often call them miracles.  Most people, at sometime or other in their lives, experience these moments in which what they desire arises spontaneously from the environment, as though the environment had been scanning itself for an entity which would enable it to express some longed-for condition of existence.  I realize I am anthropomorphizing here, but I am doing it deliberately because from both sides — person and environment, or artist and audience — there seems to be intention.

This thing, this Being, that we call art, or learning, or healing or even love, carries us out of ourselves and into a glittering awareness where our rapport becomes so intense that it pulls us out of the 3-d prison of flesh bodies, and allows us for a moment to inhabit some vaster parental space where desire ends in instantaneous fulfillment.  I write for you.  You read for me.  The connection we make is the milk supplied by the spirit of our mutual longing for what is written. 

Roy Dean Doughty is the author or A Monument of Wonders, a literary work combining poetry and fiction, which explores the marriage of language, consciousness and time.  As a daily practice conducted in conjunction with his Kryia meditation, he has also written a poem every day for more than twenty years.  He is the creator of The Ten Thousand Poem Project and the author of  Fourteen Poems, Yodo International Press, 1987, Clear Mo(u)rningand Spirit Chronologies. His work has been featured on “The Oneness Program” KEST Radio, San Francisco, VoiceAmerica Radio, Phoenix, Arizona, and Unity, FM radio.  He can also be read at www.doughtyspoetry.comwww.doughtysjamesjoyce.com, and www.doughtysbrainfood.com

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Word and World: Artist and Audience | TAO • The Arts Organization


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