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This is the next excerpt from Beatrice Allen Page’s (my grandmother) unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:

“Saw a little girl jumping rope this afternoon, chanting her own accompaniment which I couldn’t quite catch. There was something about her blitheness, her buoyancy, her exhilaration – whatever – that brought e.e. cummings’s words to mind: ‘anyone lived in a pretty how town/ (with up so floating many bells down).’ Those lilting lines make me feel the way I imagine that little girl felt.

As I recall, cummings wrote somewhere about his own happy childhood. His poetry gives the impression of a happy man, which refreshingly gives the lie to the theory that all art springs from neurotic conflict.

What was it Jung said about the nature of the artist? I vaguely remember reading somewhere his description of the artist as a dual personality – as human being he (or she) might be neurotic or he (or she) might be in tune with himself (or herself); might be a criminal or a good citizen; might be morose or happy-go-lucky. As artist, however, he (or she) is the instrument of an impersonal creative impulse. The personality may help or hinder the work, but the creativity stems from a far deeper or higher source than the personality.

No doubt that is the way most artists would like to think of themselves. It should make them humble. (‘Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art,’ said Stanislavski.) But instead, the theory seems so often to make them feel more self-important. One would like to believe narcissism is just a defense against demands upon their time and thought that would deflect them from their vocation. However, this is not always the impression, alas.

And so my fuzzy thinking ends up with the old question; is the urge to paint or write or dance or whatever a neurotic or a creative compulsion?”

 

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