[There is] “the edge between what is known and what is never to be discovered because it is a mystery transcendent of all human research.” ~ Joseph Campbell
More often than not, when we seek answers we immediately grab our smartphones and Google or use other search engines to find the concrete, to learn the facts. Our science is advancing so rapidly that new facts replace old in the matter of days instead of centuries. Our access to information is unlike anything dreamed of fifty years ago as we read our newspapers, listened to radios, and watched televisions.
There is a story, however apocryphal, that in the 1950’s, then President Eisenhower was led into a room with was completely filled with an enormous computer. The engineers challenged the President to ask a question to the computer. The President thought, then asked the engineers to program in the question, “is there a God?”
The computer whirred and hummed for about ten minutes, which was considered to be quite fast in the day. Then lights flashed and a buzzer sounded and a card spat out…”there is NOW!”
Although I laughed at the story, to some degree, information has become a god. To some degree, technology and science have become gods. We live in a time when we believe everything can become known…will become known.
Don’t misunderstand. I love to study and learn. I want to know more. But adding to my accumulation of information does not lessen my wonderment or belief in magic, in mystery. Neither science nor technology can explain love. No amount of research can explain why people will sacrifice themselves for others whom they do not know. There are things so beyond our understanding that we cannot even begin to describe, what Campbell calls the “what is never to be discovered.” In essence…the mystery.
And just because we cannot see, because we cannot describe or articulate something beyond our conscious ability, some would argue this as the evidence that it does not exist. But artists know better.
That is why the artist is just as important as the scientist or the engineer to our cultures and civilization. Because no matter how much we learn, how much we can know, even if one day, everything in the sensory world is explained, there shall always be the ineffable. There shall always be the mystery.
This is what the poet understands and conveys through imagery and metaphor. This is what the painter knows and illustrates through strokes and colors. This what the storyteller learns through the telling of her story which when revealed from the depths, the land of dreams and visions, resonates from soul to soul, revealing a collective consciousness, always there but never experienced.
Art is a tangible through which the heart feels and knows and experiences the mystery. It is all we have and yet it is more than enough. We do not need mystery to be explained or understood. We just need to experience transcendence. We need it as much as we need air and water and food. For without transcendence, there are no breaths, there is no refreshment, there is no nourishment. Without transcendence, there is no ecstasy, no amazement, no wonder, no mystery. No awe.
Celebrate that within you that keeps your eyes open, your heart vulnerable, your imagination free and wild, your belief in magic and mystery active and alive, and that keeps your inner child at play. That is your artist within. That is who you truly are. And that is why you were created.