…art-making is born, at least in part, in some kind of wish – for the ambering experience against time’s dissolution, for the creation or expression of beauty, for the discoveries or display of talent or of emotional, intellectual or spiritual understanding. Art-making, adding something to things as they are, must be placed in the world of desire. Beneath the serene artistic surface is a rapacity: like the Greek god Hermes inventing the first musical instrument from the bones and intestines of a stolen cow, the artist is in some aspects a hunter and thief – to make art, you must want.
Yet the work of art completed counterbalances attachment. It is done. The artist lets it drop and walks away, and the painting or photograph, the sculpture or poem with which the artist has been so fiercely engaged, lets her or him go. It is the same for the viewer, the listener – great art takes us utterly, changes us utterly, then restores us to the condition of fundamental realization: we are as we are, the world is as it is. An intimate thusness. In this way, any work of art is the Zen master’s ink-brushed circle – emptiness and form embrace, made visible in all of its beginningless and endless parts.
Jane Hirshfield, “Six Small Meditations on Desire.” Tricycle, Summer 2004