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The Mother


Volume 1

Undated 1956

(Letter to Mother from Satprem)


All artistic creation is born of a question, a conflict, a discord with oneself, mankind or the cosmos. What painter, what poet, what writer has not wrenched from this conflict the best of his art, from Michelangelo to Goya, from Van Gogh to Rodin, from Villon to Rimbaud, Baudelaire or Dostoevski? And the work of art – the painting, novel or poem – is a harmony torn from this disharmony, a conquest over some chaos, a response to a question posed by man – a metamorphosis.

Artistic creation relies upon that which is most unique in man, most singular with respect to others, and it is through this singular uniqueness that the artist achieves his metamorphosis, his re-creation of the world; it is through this that he seeks to commune with others, himself and the world.

Now, Yoga seeks to eliminate conflict, problems or questions. Man has to forget all this, to cease being a question.

So when an answer has been given to every question, what place remains for the work of art? When all is metamorphosized through Transcendence, what place remains for artistic metamorphosis? When all is supreme harmony, can this harmony be expressed otherwise than through silence, a smile, a radiance or “inspired” poetry – of which Sri Aurobindo is the sole example; even so, his poetry is not drawn from the human level, it surpasses the human, it issues from elsewhere.

Must artistic creation cease being human, then; must it cease relying upon the human? – which would then mean having to reject so many undeniably great painters, poets or writers? Must one wait to be open to the supramental planes of consciousness before being able to reconcile (assuming such reconciliation is possible) yoga and artistic creation? And, until then, smother all that sustains the creative élan, i.e. the individual, the conflict, that part of oneself which every creator feels to be the purest human part? Must one extinguish in oneself this play of light and shadow from which art derives its highest accents?

Signed: Bernard

in French

in German