Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Arts

I don't think I have come across as anti-arts here, but I have been accused of it elsewhere, and I would like to defend myself by making some distinctions.  I have two brothers and a son making their livings in the arts, after all, and I was a Theatre and Speech major, coffee-house musician, and author of a long meandering novel in an earlier incarnation.

Years ago a psychologist friend wore a button to work saying "Fear no art," at the time of the Mapplethorpe photography exhibit.  I challenged it, and he immediately understood.  "No, art is one of the things most to be feared."

Art is powerful.  As every comic-book reader knows, powers can be used for good or evil.  There is an attitude within the arts (by some, but not all) that there is an inherent nobility, even spirituality of being an artist, and worthy of praise for that alone.  I won't bore you with how 19th C this view is, and yet it persists because it meets an emotional need.  If you are a brilliant novelist but teach people untruths, that is evil.  You don't get style points because other people in your profession admire your technique.

Those within a given arts profession are most likely to fall victim to such foolishness, because they understand the skill and effort required.  It is still wrong, but few of us rise far above that.  We admire those who do well what we do as a profession, even if their aims are not ours.  Because we can learn something from them, we tend by halo effect to regard them as good.

Here is an irony: if we regard talent as a sort of wealth (and it is), then it is not very different from rich people contributing to causes, is it?

5 comments:

Sam L. said...

Well, AVI, you MUST be agin the Arts if you keep avoiding them; or maybe, you just don't care, or since you didn't put ARTS in your header anywhere, some fools might think, wrongly, no doubt, that you're agin them. Such fools those mortals be, right?

I don't fear art. I insult some people's concept of art with some frequency. I don't fear them either. (Buncha panty-waist aesthetes!)

panjoomby said...

fear not science.
indeed, the arts are for those who can't do science. but, i kid:) unless you go by SAT scores - then i may be right:)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

No, many people in the arts had high SAT scores. Writers and musicians especially.

james said...

WRT SAT scores, wasn't there an artist guy named da Vinci, who did engineering from time to time? I think there was also a chemist named Asimov who wrote a few books.

Texan99 said...

Not being either an artist or a scientist, I have a hard time understanding how one could be opposed to either. I can't even say I have a preference; they serve completely different functions.