How A Prejudice Against Spirituality Effects The Artist

The modern world is very prejudiced against spirituality. I don’t disapprove of being critical of organized religion, but I’ve seen many artists take this further. They express distaste for any sign of spiritual feeling. Obviously, this cannot serve the artist well. Art should elevate the spirit, not spit on it.

I’m convinced that feeling hostility towards all that is spiritual is deeply wounding to the human psyche. You are literally hostile towards your deeper self and this can only be construed as a form of self-hatred. In other words, this rejection of the spiritual is probably registering as a rejection of the muse. For some artists this rejection is so complete that they even refuse to feel inspired.  The emphasis on hard work and the disparagement of inspiration strikes me as a dismissal of inspiration’s role in the creation of art.

What replaces spirituality is worship of the intellect. Intellect is sacred to modern man. Yet if you explore the ancient origins of the words; genius, visionary, inspiration you will always find that these concepts originally had a more religious connotation. Let’s take genius for example. Now you can read a Wikipedia article on the modern interpretation of Genius at or you could read a Wikipedia article on Genius (mythology) at This alone is pretty interesting. Why have two articles?

In Roman religion, the genius is the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Much like a guardian angel, the genius would follow each man from the hour of his birth until the day he died.

Curiously the ancient Greeks and Romans had a weaker sense of human agency and saw themselves as under the influence of the gods. Even inspiration meant “to breathe into” in the sense that an inspired utterance was giving voice to a god. Poets were thought to speak for the gods while under the influence of something other than conscious thought. Depth psychology confirmed that we are under the influence of passions or processes buried deep within our psyche. Unfortunately, depth psychology has gone out of style and we are back to being blind to our deeper selves.

Vision is another word that has acquired a meaning which is limited to celebrating intellect and not spirit. When we say that Elon Musk is a visionary we do not mean that he has been shown something by the gods. We mean that he is a paragon of intellect, an engineer who is doing great things in science. I am always intrigued when I learn of a “visionary artist” but I always discover an artist who is known for doing exceptional work and not a true visionary which would be an artist who seems to see beyond the world to grasp something greater. An artist who can see deeply into the psyche would be a visionary artist. An artist who is captivated by what he finds within himself is truly guided by genius.

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