22 May 2014

The Habit of Being Alive

Arthur Ransome, "Art for Life's Sake," Portraits and Speculations (London: Macmillan, 1913), pp. 17-18:
Art is itself life. Its function is to increase our consciousness of life, to make us more than wise or sensitive, to transform us from beings overwhelmed by the powerful stream of unconscious living to beings dominating that stream, to change us from objects acted upon by life to joyful collaborators in that reaction. By its means we become conscious gainers by life's procreative activity. No longer hiding our faces from that muddied storm that sweeps irresistibly from the future to the past, a medley of confused figures, a babel of cries of joy, of laughter, of sorrow, of pain, by its means we lift our heads, and, learning from the isolation of moments in eternity, to imagine the isolation of all such moments, we conquer that storm, and accept pain, joy, laughter or sorrow, with equal gratitude, in our continually realised desire to feel ourselves alive.
Id., p. 34:
We ask from an artist opportunities of conscious living, which, taken as they come, multiply the possibilities of their recurrence, turn us into artists, and help us to contract the habit of being alive.