Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Point of Art

The pointless is precisely the point: I announce. It is one way to live life as it comes, but quite another to be able to stop and talk about it. We are no perfect mirrors, with our twists and turns, and should claim no prizes for reflection. Yet, it is our words and thoughts that make events around us richer, and I claim, significant.

The events would have happened regardless: Let's settle for that. One can say everything happens for a reason, indeed, but to assume that we know the reason or it happens for what we think is designed to happen next, is a foolish attempt to play God. The point I am making is that the events have no significance if it did not initiate us into thinking. Even something as significant as a death or a birth derive its meaning from what we thought about it; An unsung birth or an un-mourned death is just a momentary happening, not unlike a small installment of rain or a tide that was scheduled to come at a given hour.

The significance of writing is to create this significance then, and to preserve this for a while, and spread it outside of its immediate birthplace, the writers mind. So is any art, which grow in the womb of real events but assume an existence of its own, when it meaningfully grows up in the hands and minds of its creator and touches everyone in a shared, though not common, significance. It is an important function. We have become powerful enough now to create the reality: to fly, to defy death, to engineer a birth, to conjure up images, to transmit music through the ether, unbound of its place of creation and time. But this technology creates a reality which will be devoid of meaning if the writers did not create words and meanings around these, or artists did not put them on their easel.

Creation of this kind, sometimes, is perceived to be a lazy pursuit. Meaningless by itself, because it does nothing to change the reality. It produces nothing. Societies climbing out of poverty often tend to see pursuers of Art and Literature as distraction from the path of progress, people fixated on the rear-view mirror of a racing car. The schools, entrusted with the task of creating the scientists and engineers, tend to push its best pupils into the pursuit of the real. Whoever is left, gets ambushed at home or at the college, when the dreaded tuition fee bill arrives. In a way, we want real progress and no more: We need our plates full, heaters running, cars on the road, supermarkets stocked, cities cleaned. In this turbo-speed life, there is no time for art, perhaps. Only the wimps should do it.

But then imagine a city of advanced mechanical transportation, but where no one will offer you a hand if you fall. Because the event of your fall will mean nothing to anyone except you, and yes, the advanced chip in your mobile phone may be smart enough to call the paramedics. The lightening speed transport will get them to you in a ziffy, and the advanced medical treatment will set you right in no time. In this technopia, do you still need the kind old lady who offer a hand to pick you up despite being very frail herself? It is unreal, but one can argue that the same pointless human kindness will make the paramedic drop the unfinished cup of tea to rush to you in the first place, and the nurse to make sure that you stayed in support till you could really walk again, not what the Hospital Board target time for the treatment was. Take away the art, and one day we will take away judgement. Take away the judgement, one day we will take away our ability to decide, and that will lead to our inability to change the reality any longer.

Yes, I am arguing that art makes the reality significant, and there is really no distinction between artistic and scientific thinking. In fact, scientific thinking resides within the cusp of the artistic existence, the ability to pursue truth, the intent to create and above all, being able to decide in a meaningful and humane way. The artists, in their way, are saving the world. The point of art is precisely to create the point.

No comments:

Popular Posts

How To Live

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

Creative Commons License

AddThis