I’ll be your harvester of light
And send it out tonight
So we can start again…
On my way home from work the other day, I played this Winter Song from Sara Bareilles.
I’ve always liked the song even though its simplicity borders on the redundant. With a literality that borders on inanity, I find myself listening to this song… mostly in December.
As I sat in my car retracing the miles that would bring me to my home, half listening, half thinking about these new ideas about Artists that have preoccupied me since the late summer, the verse cited above punctured my attention.
It is strange the way the human mind operates. I’m not sure what characteristic of our psychology it is which brings fertility to otherwise ordinary ideas, but so often it feels like luck. Had I not been listening to this song while thinking about my essay on Breaking Bad, I may never have found what I think is the perfect metaphor for the occupation of Artist. Miss Bareilles gets the credit, but I get the final expression of ALL that I have been trying so long to say. Artists are:
The Harvesters of Light
If you continue to listen to the song [and you apply the ideas we’ve developed within this essay] you realize it is written as the artist’s lovesong to her audience.
This is my winter song to you
The storm is coming soon
It rolls in from the sea.
My voice; a beacon in the night
My words will be your light
To carry you to me.
In this incarnation, the artist uses her voice to orient the audience to her harbor. Her voice may be the instrument, but even she can’t resist turning the actual words [the meaning] into the electricity which operates that instrument. The Artist, in this song, is removed from the audience and laboring to protect that audience from a furious world. One which means to harm the audience.
The refrain of this song is no less important to its overall intent. It is three words recited over and over:
Is love alive?
Is love alive?
There is no doubting that this question is directed at the audience. The Artist wishes, profoundly, to be loved for her beacon-making efforts, but this is not guaranteed. In the song the question remains unanswered. The Artist creates, but it is not necessary that anyone sees.
Now, I know that Miss Bareilles means her winter song as some sort of tribute to an actual person. Having written 8 previous installments in this series of articles, I’m equally convinced that it [like all art] is also a commentary on the artist’s relationship with creativity AND the audience’s reception of that creativity.
What Miss Bareilles intuited about creativity is what I have always stated out loud [even if it wasn’t said as prettily as she said it]. The job of an Artist is to provide harbor from the storm. Her Art is the beacon and her meaning is the light. Her FUNCTION is to harvest. She is successful when as many people as possible are within her harbor.
If we be more calculating and less emotional, what we are saying is that an Artist uses her talent to increase the knowledge of her species.
There is a teleological problem hiding in that last sentence which I NEVER noticed before this summer. I took it as true that increasing the knowledge of the species was ALWAYS a moral good. What if it isn’t? I’ve spent my entire critical career assuming that resonance was a proper good. In other words, I didn’t think it was possible for an inferior [in the moral sense] Artist to achieve lasting resonance.
What if, god forbid, a harvester of darkness arises as a beacon in the day… and the audience responds. What will all my refabricative analysis make of her?
Am I forced by my own inductions to call her good?