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Origins of Art 

Inspiration demands the active cooperation of the intellect, joined with enthusiasm.
­— Giorgio Vasari

We don't create art,
not in the first instance anyway.
It impregnates us.
We carry it to term by interior osmosis;
gestation lasts days or decades.
Art is in the unconscious
until we sublimate it,
even as we nourish and discipline
inspiration with creativity.
It remains in us at one step removed
when we 'finish' it —
no work of art can mature in full;
the artist doesn't live long enough to complete it.
Of course it takes on a life of its own.
The umbilical is cut.
Don't mistake the art for the artist.
The two are independent existences,
at odds as often as not.
The inspiration and its result
are at times ominously close to alien.
Yes, art is in me,
but it is not mine.
When it is 'done,'
it becomes yours briefly
for the vanishing, ungraspable moment.
Because art, too, is ungraspable,
its ultimate origins unknown.
Not even the artist can decipher
the reality behind art's illusion —
if there be one.

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Paul Mann

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