For some time now I have been announcing portentously my belief that art is a communication between man and God.
Actually, I haven't really had much of an idea as to what I meant by that, but it was one of those stake-in-the-ground statements; it sounded sort of right to me and the details would no doubt come along later.
When I was writing 'Fishing, for Christians', which is an exploration of the issue of how a loving God would allow so much suffering in the world, even down to its basic structure and design, I came to a conclusion roughly built on Gnostic Christian teaching that claims there are two Gods – the Living God, who is the God of the Universe, and the Demiurge, a much more rugged and hands-on God who rules the world.
In my theory, the Living God is passive and happy to let things just be, while the Demiurge is the more active and knowledge-seeking aspect of God who wants to explore the limits of his breakthrough innovation - carbon intelligence.
Now, I know as a researcher that the more obvious aspects of life can be observed, categorised and counted – are susceptible to statistical analysis – but that it is really hard to capture the qualitative nature of our experience of the world. To investigate that you employ skilled psychologically trained researchers using indirect techniques and provocations.
So, putting those thoughts together, what if artists exist to help God explore the intensely psychological experience of being alive, the qualitative aspects of carbon intelligence's sense of a life being lived?
In philosophy you have the school of 'existentialism', Jean-Paul Sarte and all that, but you don't really get to understanding the nature and quality of life by discussing it, which is why Sartre, Camus and others dual-tracked by writing books and plays to try to explain what they meant another way.
Thanks to Lizzie Eldridge's new book, 'Duende', I now know there is a Spanish word for the concept I have been struggling with - duende. It is a word that does not neatly translate into English but it broadly means 'capturing viscerally the nature and quality of the experience of being alive'.
I reckon that is what artists attempt to do, and nowadays there are millions of artists trying to achieve their little corner of that thought, to record their own duende, which makes for quite a conversation, I would say.
The rewards for the most intense records do not often come in private islands, private jets, private yachts and naked blondes, but they are surely rewards unto themselves, and maybe even central to the cosmic design.
I don't mind playing my tiny part in that.