The Artistect

These are the inspiring views of Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, taken from the interview with La Repubblica (Ero l’idiota di famiglia poi ho vinto il Nobel)I translated it from the italian version, which was previously translated from the english or turkish I imagine, so after two rounds of translation I hope it stays true to the source!
“There are two aspects to being a writer. There is the analytical mind, mathematical, that is focused on following a train of thought in order to reach an objective, and can even engender mental creations: the dead and burried architect in me conditions me to follow this direction. But there is also the poetical and sensitive mind that pauses rationality to synthesize itself in that internal music, or that suddenly takes advantage of an unexpected moment of inspiration. To be writers one has to be able to conjugate the mathematical mind with the poetical sensibility, in a continuous and stable compromise between the rational planning and irrational surrealism. Its because of this that I like to write novels!”

What inspires me about this interview is that I find a lot of ‘me’ in what he says. As a novelist and artist he doesn’t reject the work of the unconscious but rather wants to synthesize himself with an ‘internal music’ resonating from within that at times wants to show itself to the world. In jotting down colours on canvass, or in whistling while walking down the street, in playing music following the rhythms of our body we are letting go of the rigid analytical mind and letting the mind and body wander and thus setting it free to affect and be affected. “I wander, therefore I am,” I would say, rather than “cogito ergo sum”. However, I am not saying we should reject the analytical mind either, as Pamuk says, writing is about the cooperation of two ambivalent modalities of being: we are architects and surrealists, yin and yang, creation and destruction.

There is a lot on this topic that I want to expand in my future posts, because I find the situation of art in our times tragic. We have all become architects; weather or not we studied engineering, we are all structured ‘constructivists’ ready to build something conceptual, social, and good for civilization.. we are so busy building that we are forgetting the most beautiful part of our humanity: art = something deeply immoral and troublesome because inherently unproductive (unless it can be bought and sold, of course). Remember that it was Nietzsche who regarded art as being the highest expression of the human spirit. 


The architectural, economic model we live in today is so focused on giving us productivity that it doesn’t give us the time to nor the ‘knowledge that we can’ synthesize with ourselves, be playful and find our artists. The beauty in Pamuk’s interview lays in his call to humanity, a call to pause our rational constructive efforts and wave in our rhythms to find those colours and those sounds.

One thought on “The Artistect

  1. I agree… we are so busy doing what we are told to do in order to be "successfully productive", that we underestimate the power of the art within.But isn't art some kind of instinct or natural condition we are all born with? in that case, isnt it always there, playing a part even when we are trying to be as 'rational' as we were trained to? it is always there, we just dont value it as much, and therefore we do not open our minds daily to the dimensions it can achieve.In some cases, however, art and the natural instinctive way of being in the world are clearly being regarded as Bad, as you say, for not matching the ideal of power and productivity. The old saying, for example, that 'man are not supposed to cry', is in my opinion one of the worst ways in which we deny the art within. Arent tears caused by the emotional state of finding beauty in something such as a song or a deep emotion just another kind of art? To me, art and emotion are deeply linked.I love how you mention little daily things, such as whistling while walking, as forms in which this art within finds its way out eventually. little daily beauties. I think it is because of these moments of spontaneity – when our art within finds its way out – that we fall in love for another person, we are surprised and touched by something essentially unique to that person that can only be expressed in such little ways, out of the 'normalized rational' that we all use to try to fit in our system, and therefore, ignoring each others inner artists, we become one synchronized art-less machine.


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