Watching An Artist

Marcus Mumford 2

Surrounded by dear friends in the cool night October air of Louisiana, Mumford and Sons took the stage. There are events and feelings in my life that my memory doesn’t do justice, only the lived moment itself can begin to capture an experience of such magnitude. This was one of those times.

In the first song, Marcus Mumford ran out onto the walkway of the stage, slung his guitar to his back, and began to yell the lyrics of their new song “42” as he pounded the drums. He danced, he sang, he lost himself in the music. His eyes closed, and he poured himself out. The man was fully alive. And the crowd went insane.

Some of my favorite moments to witness are when an artist completely loses themselves in their craft. Whether its a musician on stage shredding a guitar solo, or a painter covering a canvas with ideas, something special occurs. They go to another place. Everyone else disappears and its just them, and their act of creation. This thing they do again and again, yet it is different each time. This thing they commit themselves to over and over. This thing that makes them come alive. And they share it. When Marcus shared it with us, I came alive. The fire of the artist ignited something inside of myself. The thing was shared and his passion became known. You could feel it. This was not merely a performance, but an expression from one group of people to another group of people. From the band to the crowd. From the stage to the ground.

The ancient Greek word for the craft of an artist is “techne”. This is the thing the artist commits to full heartedly and stakes their existence in because it fulfills them unlike anything else they have come across. In his dialogues of the Republic, Plato speaks about this term and its importance to human life. Humans strive towards what is good and true and beautiful. The “techne” is the means by which the artist enters into a relationship with these transcendentals, but also the way by which they share this relationship with others. The artist becomes enlivened and liberated through expressing themselves. Their lives, their hurt, their knowledge of reality. They share their walk, and we listen.

Seeing Marcus in full liveliness express the things in his chest set me on fire. He shared himself in that moment, the joy of living his relationship with all that is good and true and beautiful. And I listened.

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