Rating 4/5 – A thoughtful, honest, and decisive book, framing the contemporary artist’s dilemma and providing companionship, guidance, and fresh purpose to create.
“We are all creators”, Michael Gungor asserts. “But only real things get to create things, not ghosts…dead souls do not produce the same stuff as living ones do.”
Inviting the reader into the thrilling, embarrassing, and downright astonishing stories that thread through his creative journey, Gungor first describes the place he has come from, as a swaying creator seeking appreciation, next realizes the paralysis brought about by disconnecting from the grounds of one’s art, and then explores the resurrection found in reconnecting with that source. Prepare to encounter the allure of the crowd and steel yourself for the tongue of the critic, but get ready to realize their ultimately inconsequential place in your creative endeavours.
While not presuming to know everything or be right about anything, Gungor has penned more than just a book. It’s a tool that allows creative people (all of us) to distinguish the roots of our culture that frames our creative processes, and to see where these roots are diseased and causing decay. Dividing the book into three parts, the first is on the nature of art and creativity, encountering the soul, the sublime, and the source. Following this is his exposition of six roots that support our cultural tree, and finally a look into the soil itself: how to cultivate the kind of landscape from which good art can grow.
As the artist turns these pages, she will encounter weighty words of caution as well as celebration. Gungor’s artistic grounding freshly recontextualizes scriptures like, “What do you profit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?” As an artist who sees and has seen through, he possesses a rare ability to speak to the divergent, artistic individual wrestling with the conflicts that surround artistic integrity.
Tend the ground of the inner landscape from which the art grows, says Michael. Art is the body’s pronunciation of the soul. If the soul is dry, so too will the art be. This is his invitation to re-engage the motive for creator to create.
Listen to Michael read the Introduction to The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse here!