Art and LiteratureEducationLife and FaithParenthood

The Phantom

What is the artistic spirit within us that arises, unannounced, to haunt our homes?

Today I saw my daughter pounding furiously with pencils upon paper. Brow furrowed, she inordinately assembled a haphazard diaspora of points by means of pummeling. Unsatisfied with one color, she expanded the oeuvre to encompass black, green and grey. The shimmering graphite reflects blindingly into my eyes as I gaze now upon the paper, turning it in my hands and observing the deft divots, at deviating distances, disseminated by her (distraught?) digits.

Again: What is the intent behind such an act? Where is this impulse leading my Lillian?

Perhaps I am reading too deeply into an incident that ought simply be ignored. After all, we are—all of us—more than familiar with the delusions of childhood. The inner artist we once were has been squashed and squelched. Our voices no longer resound; they are instead chastened by incessant fears of what-could-come-consequently. There is something upright and normal about censoring one’s impulses. Should we not demur when the muse approaches to play?

Perhaps I am wrong to wring my hands over this phantom. Seeking its source may be nothing more than a wayward fantasy—testing time by torturously transgressing its bounds—a distant dream of impossible return. A daemon drowned in the depths of a deluge, literally “watered over” by a torrent of experience, a cavalcade of continuous registered remembrances.

Oh! To be liberated from the confines of my own recollection. To lose myself once more in the pure act of creation. To let time slip, nay, to be completed voided of time as a system of measure. To be callously closed off to its very passage; to abhor and abominate every artificial construct so specifically set to stymie that natural creative process wherein we all—languishing in the Moment—lose our minds and gain our souls.



And I had to clean up the mess afterwards, too.


Benjamin Winter

Benjamin Winter

Dr. Benjamin Winter is assistant professor of theology at Divine Word College. His research interests include scholasticism, Christian mysticism, science and religion, and philosophical theology. Before matriculating from Saint Louis University with a doctorate in Historical Theology, Ben completed a Master of Arts in Theology at Villanova University. His undergraduate degree comes from Truman State University, where he studied English and Philosophy. His interests outside the academy include creating electronic music, travel, swimming, science fiction, and podcasts of all sorts.

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