Wole Soyinka on life as an artist

[Interviewer] Ulli Beier:  . . . You speak about the artist going on a kind of journey; a trip into another dimension from where he returns with a kind of boon … and inspiration … but maybe you better summarize it yourself.

Soyinka: I think what I was referring to was the mystery of creativity itself. Which is almost like a dare, a challenge of nature secrecies. One goes out almost in the same way in which Ogun cleared the jungle – because he had forged the metallic instrument. He is very much the explorer.

The artist is in many ways similar; each time, he discovers a proto world in gestation; it’s almost like discovering another world in the galaxy. The artist’s view of reality creates an entirely new world. Into that world he leads a raid; he rifles its resources and returns to normal existence. The tragic dimension of that is one of disintegration of the self in a world which is being reborn always, and from which the artists can only recover his being by an exercise of sheer will power. He disintegrates in the passage into that world. He loses himself and only the power of the will can bring him back. And when he returns from the experience, he is imbued with new wisdoms, new perspectives, a new way of looking at phenomena.