I am concerned with exploring art as a legitimate species of autonomous knowledge. Beyond a playful subject for the science of aesthetics to interrogate, art is the preeminent, originary happening of truth in which knowledge is disclosed and historically appropriated by those who preserve the work by drawing life and strength from its revelatory message. Art's revelation of truth precedes and grounds all theoretical and practical activities of the human spirit.

However, concomitant with art's endowment of truth is the inevitable curse of destruction to the artist who is endowed with "divine" talent and beholden to a transcendent, god-given task, or vocation. This is because art is supra-personal. It transcends the personal concerns of the artist and gains ascendency over her existence. As both Jung and Heidegger have reasoned, art is a living process that utilizes, or more accurately, exploits the artist's faculties according to its own laws, empowering, shaping, and directing her skill and expertise in order to fulfill its own higher, creative purpose.

The artist's vocation weighs heavy on her humanity, as it calls for all things to be subordinated in service of the work, even at the expense of the creator's healthful well-being and happiness. Burdened with the monumental responsibility of establishing the historical destiny of a people, the artist's existential plight serves as the precondition for her inspiration. The poet who becomes intimate with the most burdensome aspects of life steals "fire" from the heavens and sings the "song of fate" to others while suffering in the process the so-called "legitimacy of aesthetics."

The authentic poet is reminiscent in many ways of the ancient tragic hero who is destroyed in the pursuit of life's higher ideals, and likewise, burns intensely and brightly for a fleeting moment, and then, with a life and soul consumed in the manner of Hölderlin's magnificent Empedocles, the ancient Eleatic mystic who first poetized the cosmology of "Love" and "Strife," is fatefully extinguished.

This project originated as a short, experimental film that was produced and edited in 2005, Suffering the Legitimacy of Aesthetics. The film has since been re-titled and re-released as The Poet's Vocation. The film screened (and continues to screen) internationally and has garnished several awards for experimental film making.

View transcribed narration and film stills.

J. M. M. 1/07/2008