I believe in Ars—all that is fine in literature and music, sculpture and architecture, photography and cinema— has been the highlight of the past three years. How did I arrive at such a definition? “With a little help from my friends” John, Paul, George, and Ringo, who have brought me closer to the crafts of poetry, drawing, photography, and musical composition.
Four years ago, having exhausted my classical music collection, I found the Beatles compilation album “1” amongst my parents’ assortment of scratched CDs and dusty cassettes, tokens of their college days. Without having seriously listened to the Beatles’ music, I always assumed that they had produced 1960s kitsch—the antithesis of Ars — and had consequently eschewed their music until the instant I played the album. That moment was inevitable; the Fab Four and popular music are as inescapable as Edgar Allan Poe and his tales. Within a week of that first hearing, I had listened to all of the Beatles’ albums several times and formally forsaken the 3 B’s of classical music for the BuBBle gum of pop music. Yearning for more melodies, I traced the Beatles’ influences and ultimately came to the music of Rock’n roll himself, Chuck Berry; the Blues himself, Robert Johnson; and Jazz himself, Louis Armstrong. My eyes were finally opened to my blindness: these men were true Arsists, not entertainers! Beethoven had surely rolled over.
Motivated by these architects of contemporary music, I too wanted to be an Arsist. My piano struck Elton John and Billy Joel chords, my nylon-stringed guitar churned out Hendrix-esque riffs while my violin and accordion were simply trying to find a place in the chaotic one-man band. All this was quite a change from the usual impressionistic improvisation, Tárrega etude, Mozart sonata, or polka. And I was not content with merely producing covers. Before long I had eked out chord progressions and written lyrics to my own Songs of Myself.
But music alone would not satisfy my aesthetic demon. The experience of listening to Bob Dylan’s marriage of melody and words in “Visions of Johanna” inspired me to learn the craft of poetry. I devoured novels and absorbed the sonorities of great poetry as I fastidiously penned poetry of my own. At the same time, I fed the appetite for learning languages which I had acquired in middle school by studying Spanish, French, German, and Latin and translating the works of foreign authors.
When I learned that Paul McCartney was also a respectable painter, I became intrigued by the concept of the Renaissance man, a king-of-all-trades, a Hugo, a Blake or a Michelangelo. But at the same time, how discouraged was I by the multifarious works of these sublime geniuses! Learning the art of drawing from Leonardo’s Notebooks had the effect of healing my battered ego as I could smugly take note of the polymath’s copious errors in thinking. In due course, I took up the art of Ansel Adams as I saw in it a quick method of producing arsful compositions faithful to nature.
My journey into the world of Ars has only begun. Ego sum Arsist, and I don’t look back.
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