Freedom is not the capacity to choose to have a coffee rather than a tea.  There can be little doubt that such choices are dictated by determinist physical processes, and only feel free because they are too complex for our consciousness to process.   Freedom is not this.   It is to breathe a larger air, as one might feel on getting out of a car after a long journey and breathing in the vast openness of the sea.  It is a capacity that only persons have.  It is the ability to hear a greater voice in the universe that escapes the boundaries of definition and measurement:  the freshness of a September morning,  a quiet sea lapping on sand,  a sudden view of mountains.  Why is it that we find these things so meaningful when we don’t know what they mean?   All artists know this greater voice. the muse that comes gently knocking.   All works of art that ‘work’ come unbidden as if dictated by a voice within.   Eliot called it the auditory imagination,  Keats negative capability,   L. S. Lowry the other side, Coleridge, its great explorer and geographer,  simply the imagination.   According to Coleridge odd scraps of memory fall like drifting leaves onto the surface of the poet’s mind, and then sink down into the depths of his (oh alright her) mind and rise to the surface again transformed, transmuted into a new organic whole,  infused, as by an objective process, with the stuff as it were of the poet’s subjectivity, his soul could you say, communicating a new meaning that transcends the separate words that compose it.   We recognize this transcendent presence in great lines of poetry.  ‘Killers from the egg’ wrote Ted Hughes. ‘Good things of day do droop and drowse’ mused Macbeth.   All artists would call the extraordinary pleasure that accompanies this process an experience of freedom.   That is what they would say.  Not ‘I feel fulfilled’ or ‘that was a good day’s work’ but ‘I feel free’.  Yet it is almost as if it is nothing to do with the artist, although it is everything to do with him.   It is a kind of marching with the universe, as if one were in its inner presence. That inner presence must be personal, for when we are in its presence it is then that we feel we are most fully persons.  Just what is the quiet lapping of the sea saying to us?


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