I love Hitchcock, Wes Anderson, Truffaut and Rod Serling. I have a handful of shining favorite film makers who stand far above the rest, and they are all very different from one another. One of the newer (to me) yet most deeply moving of the whole bunch is Ingmar Bergman. His film Wild Strawberries is the most deeply personally-revelatory film I have ever seen. It means a little more to me each time I consider it.
Bergman’s films have a common theme of fear facing the inevitability of death which stands at nervous odds with a perception that God is there but faith is not sufficient to bolster the soul’s confidence. His characters find death so overwhelming that they can find no solace in what they see as a less overwhelming faith. I read this quote from Four Screenplays Of Ingmar Bergman and found his perspective even more complex than his films make it appear.
“Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; ‘eternal values,’ ‘immortality’ and ‘masterpiece’ were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.
The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other’s eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.”
Even for a man so troubled by the idea of so much blind faith, art for no sake but the individual doesn’t click. It does seem quite a fair assessment to me.
oh lovely! what comes around goes around, and Ingmar is going around right now i think.
what do you think about this:
all facets of art- words, images, notes- exist in a sort of perpetual possibleness.
all creative actions are merely an arranging of the existing pieces.
wiping clear the mirror.
in this light, the concept of selfish art seems inane.
I would definitely agree with something very much like what you are describing.
Joseph Campbell’s life’s work on the universal nature of stories and myths comes to mind. J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay On Fairie Stories and his story Leaf By Niggle both employ the idea that all creative inspiration is preexisting and continually reblossoming like a tree and each inspiration of the artist simply a glimpse of a particular leaf in a certain light.
Lastly, I would suggest watching the Everything Is A Remake series on creative reliance upon past creativity. I think it’s on YouTube.