When an artist creates a work of art, we sometimes say it takes on a life of its own. It moves people in one way or another, often in ways unexpected or even unintended by the artist. This phenomenon is most easily seen in music.
One artist composes a musical piece. Another artist, or group of artists, performs the piece. In the case of a group, there may be a conductor or band leader who interprets the spirit of the music in the performance. One performance differs from another, even when the same artist performs. An artist may interpret the spirit of a piece differently at one point in his life than he does at another.
Is any one interpretation the correct interpretation? May the composer alone perform his work in the full spirit in which he composed it? May the piece grow beyond the vision of the composer? May each artist’s performance release its own spirit of the work? Did the composer create a living spirit – the spirit of the music? Does the interpretation of each later artist create and release a related spirit of the music? If so, does this become a family of related spirits?
Does this apply to every artistic creation and idea? I see the same effect in a philosophical idea and a scientific or technological idea. Those ideas surely take on a life of their own and grow in ways their originator could not have imagined or, even possibly, desired.
Are human beings spirit creators?
Am I then, as spirit creator, the father, so to speak, of my spirit creation? May I direct my spirit creation to go in a certain way? May my spirit creation choose to go in a different way, as children inevitably do?
We have established that a creation may go in a way unintended by its creator. That is precisely what we mean when we say it takes on a life of its own. Did I create a sentient, able to choose? Is it alive in itself, or is it only an effect? Maybe it’s just an effect, like toxic gas dissipating into the environment.
But what if my idea or artwork is like a dog? My spirit creation may be like an animal bred and trained for a specific purpose, yet it may or may not fulfill that purpose. It may be used for another.
Who chooses the purpose for which the spirit animal is ultimately used? As I said, each artist interprets or directs it in one way or another. It may lie dormant for decades or centuries, and then rise again with old and new effects.
Once the artist’s idea is created, can it ever die? A work of visual art may be destroyed. A musical creation can go unrecorded and be lost. All those humans who were touched by the art may die without perpetuating any effect of it. So, yes, it may die.
This fact is the very reason human societies tend to value and preserve art. The artistic creation is more than just an expression from their history. It has a living effect on all who interact with it. It transcends both time and space. It is spirit.