Je ne sais quoi

The art of life isn’t about perfection.

Neither is art.  Or science.  Or spirituality.

Or love.  No matter how much we mythologize these expressions with our ideals.

Billie Holiday’s voice was at its best after cracked and broken by life.  Billy’s one of the greats, not because she sang pitch perfect, but because experience and soul bring a timeless je ne sais quoi that we feel in every recording.

Scan favorite artists — Maria Callas, Rothko, Whitman, Rembrandt, Dickinson, whomever, whatever genre, whatever medium, scan them over and over.

What makes them a favorite?  It’s not perfection, it’s the asymmetry, the gesture that belies a break, the boundary busting that can’t be neatly described, because we don’t want to.  It’s the je ne sais quoi that touches us, connecting us to something beyond the notes, the sentences, the paint, the clay.  Letting the thing emerge from the ether, the cracks of one’s person become the vehicle of luminous translation.

Realism is a myth, because painting a landscape isn’t the experience of the landscape, and poetically describing a sun soaked day will never translate the immediacy of that moment under the sun.

The art exists in the gap between what is offered in the artist’s gestures and what we experience, the thing that remains elusive.

Billie does sing perfectly of heartache, she lived it, and expressed it through a broken vehicle with no pretense to artistic perfection.

We want life’s je ne sais quoi, we want the experience of life, but we fall back into the safety of the known, repetitive, and demonstrable.

Commercialism and marketing want predictable products that flatten art’s je ne sais quoi.

Similarly, religion flattens Spirit’s mystery, and porn flattens intimacy’s ineffable beauty.

We live in world where art and life exist as consumer modalities.

To find the je ne sais quois in our lives is to deeply embrace its many glorious imperfections.

The lotus of enlightenment blooms from the world’s substance, a mucky, muddy water from which a resilient flower emerges.

Ask for more.



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