Our second Cardinal Virtue, chastity, seems harder to write about than lust, so much duller, less interesting. However, after pondering on it for a while, after scratching a little deeper, one realises that chastity and lust are but two sides of the same coin. One is the open pursuit of desire, the other, the resistance of that pursuit. What they have in common is an acknowledgement, a recognition that desire is a core instinct in all human beings. In my post on lust I wrote about the toad and the desire for status, recognition and celebrity. With chastity it shall be all about vocation. I’ve always had felt living as an artist, beholden to artistic activity is a noble pursuit, a higher calling – let me make it clear, God has nothing to do with this – in other words I have always viewed the role of an artist as a vocation. I never thought of it as anything less. Firstly, you recognise the burning fire in your belly for what it is. Secondly, you acknowledge the sacrifices and trials you will need to go through in order to express and manifest that feeling through different forms and mediums whether that be painting, sculpture, film, literature, dance, theatre, music, etc.
What this all brings me round to is a conversation I had the other night about The National Campaign for The Arts. The campaign, which is currently stepping up its opposition to state funding cuts in this country, has been a much talked about topic over the last number of months. The press have latched on to it and artists and organisations have been making loud and vociferous battle cries from roof tops all over the country. However, there has been no dissent, no opposition, no alternative argument to the campaign and the most opposition I’ve heard or read is in my own blog – not much of a counter force – although I am sure there are many out there, in the arts, who feel the same as myself.
Now, before you ask what this has got to do with chastity let me re-iterate that I feel the artist has a vocation to fulfil and, like all vocations, requires sacrifice. The campaign for the arts main claim to the retention of current state funding is the fact that the arts is a valuable economic asset and drives cultural tourism. It fails to mention, even in the small print, nothing of the passion, beauty and emotional drive that is at the core of every artists being. To be frank it sounds like a message drafted by administrators and I for one don’t want to be boxed off as an economic statistic or part of a value added tourist strategy. I do agree that my opinions and arguments are not particularly practical nor do they offer any reasonable counter argument to the state in regards to funding cuts but, as an artist, I have a vocation to follow. I can’t afford to let my calling be subsumed by those who seek to value the fire in my belly in economic terms even if it is for the supposed betterment of the arts in this country. But that is a whole different argument. One for another day
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