Why Art?

I’M BACK. AND WITH GOOD REASON.

This is a very long rant in response to a question that I decided I couldn’t answer through a simple message. It would just take too long. The question was: why is art important?

I think art’s goal is, at the surface, entertainment. Maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s true. We enjoy it for our own sake. Artists, both musicians and painters, dancers and actors, do their art because there are things they would like to see, and nobody knows what they would like to read or see or hear better than they do.

And that’s where I have to go a bit past the surface. I think if I get to the heart of why I make art, it gets slightly egotistical. I like to think that I can truly change people’s minds. Seriously, I do. I act like I can make society think about itself and its wrongs if I write it as it is, showing all the faults in grisly detail. Maybe I can. I don’t really know. I mean to say that it has happened before. As I recall, one of Picasso’s works influenced the rest of the world to see the horrors of what was going on down in Austria in WW2. I like to believe I can make people walk back into reality and think about what would happen if they kept living their lives as mundanely as they do. I’d like them to question everything. And they do.

You see, the world itself is art. Can you imagine a world without anything but the absolute essentials? Perhaps it would not exist, because a universe is not really necessary. Nothing is necessary. But from the unnecessary comes beauty, and that is art. We are art. Every human being and animal and everything in existence is artwork. The universe itself is naught but God himself throwing what was not necessary into the utter blackness and making light. Why? Because why not?

Art is the foundation of society. It does not exist without it. Art is something that every single society can understand. You can understand how someone who speaks another language and lives in a completely different place was feeling just by listening to a song. You don’t even have to understand the words even if it includes it. It is the ultimate and greatest form of communication.

Yes, art is entertaining. We are entertained by books, splashes of ink on paper, like the Hunger Games. But did you know that the Hunger Games, a fictional book, is banned in some countries? Why? Because of this: art is more than just entertainment. Art is inspiration. And those countries’ governments that ban it fear that it will inspire its citizens to rebel against them. And I’ll be damned if they aren’t right. Art is a scary thing that way.

Art is motivation. Have you ever heard a song that came on at just the right time? I have. I have friends who owe their continuing existence to a song that gave them the courage to keep plodding on in this life when it didn’t seem quite so beautiful and wonderful to do so. Art is so much more than entertainment. So much more.

Art helps us to think in ways we are just not used to thinking. As Valerie Strauss said in an article on this same subject:

 “Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.” 

That’s from the Washington Post article “Top Ten Skills Children Learn From The Arts”. I know that’s not properly cited, but this isn’t an essay.

It isn’t just for children. Art is for all. With art comes awareness. With art comes respect. With art comes understanding. With art comes an outlet for those who otherwise would not have one.

There’s a reason the arts are called visual communication. Art is expression. Without art, we would have no ultimate purpose, no higher calling. There’s more to art than just curricular needs, although it does help with school. It helps with problem solving and creativity and working with others. But it also helps us to grow spiritually and mentally. It helps us to breach gaps that otherwise could not be breached. There are things that cannot be said in monotone. There are some stories that must be on paper, some that must be sung, and some that must be plastered with paint onto a canvas.

There’s a bigger reason that all the religious books have metaphorical pieces to them. There’s a reason Christ spoke in parables. We need more than the physical to help us learn what we cannot see, taste or touch. We need art to help us understand emotion, religion, and thoughts.

There’s so much more I would like to say, honestly; so much more I feel that needs to be included. The problem is that art really is the icing on the cake. But it’s also the cake itself. It makes it more than just a nutritional supplement. It makes it so much less boring. Like, imagine if you had to just eat supplements all day long. You’d go insane. But what if they’re nice tasting, good to look at? Then there’s something more there.

Can I explain every single reason art is so awesome? No. But you may be the reason someone decides to live another day. We hold life in your hands with that gift. Nobody ever decided to avoid suicide another day due to a math problem. But, how about a song? How about for a painting or a theater play? Yes, they have avoided it for that. You can sway nations with some words and a few chords. You can change a king’s mind with some properly placed spray-paint. People have died for the way they put ink on a page. There’s a power in art that can’t be denied, even if we can’t always explain why.

So art is powerful. That is my point. And don’t let anyone take that power away from you.

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Another Midnight Post

Alright, it’s time for another one of my midnight post. This one is less about book stuff and a lot more about just regular life. I realize I haven’t done one of these in a very long time. A lot of things happen in one summer. And I mean, a lot of things. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it this summer, but I was able to get a job. It’s not a bad one; I actually really enjoy it. I’m something of a tattoo artist for cars. It’s a sweet gig.

My parents let me stay at home and I don’t even have to pay rent.  that is the sweetest gig of all. Best yet, they have an empty desk in the basement. I can have all my references in one spot and it’s huge. Not that I really have any references that aren’t on my computer, but if I did I would have room for them. That is probably a huge problem. Probably. Will I do anything about it? Absolutely not.

I like to say that there some kind luxurious life of being a writer while at home and having nothing to do. But let’s face it, I’m a college student. If I have any free time I’m just going to watch Netflix and eating pasta. Maybe work out a little. Maybe. That’s actually probably going to be a thing this summer. Biking is cool. I’ve basically been biking four miles four times a week. It does get you some leg muscles and abs. I’ll be the only man who’s never skipped leg day.

NEVER.

But I will probably also never have an epic beach body and I don’t plan to. Making tone and defined muscle, it just takes so much time. I don’t desire to use that time regularly for such a purpose. Christian bodybuilders say things like “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit”, so I should treat it like one. But what’s wrong with a temple with a little extra insulation? That’s my opinion on this silliness.

In other news, I’m probably going to have a semi-social life this summer. Weird, I know, since I just got off saying how I use all my free time for Netflix and eating pasta. It’s not totally true. I do the uncle thing with my nephews and nieces. That’s a wonderful and excellent opportunity. But also in recent news, a friend decided they were in need of a date because, well, she wanted to have one. And she’s cool. So I’m totes up for it.

I don’t really have anything more to add to this whole thing. So I’m going to rant a bit to finish it up and get it up to 500 words. I don’t know why I have such a crazy problem involving the need to make certain word counts. I just do. But to be honest, that little bit of crazy has made me who I am today.