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Having SomethingTo Say

November 28, 2011

Listening to people talk about music, writing or art can teach you a lot about what people think is Most Important in Life (waits for Conan’s reply about enemies and lamentations of their women). But really, what makes me happiest when I find myself in these kinds of discussions is when it’s clear to me that the person I’m talking to, no matter how pragmatic and grounded they may be, recognises the simple truth that music, writing and art are first and foremost forms of self-expression, and that they are most relevant when the creative person has something to say to the audience that resonates, touches, informs, envelopes them in the moment of the conception of the idea.

You share words or forms or sounds in the hope that, through some alchemical process, you can share that feeling of discovery with someone else who perhaps isn’t able to see the same thing without it being highlighted in artistic fashion. Most of us, and this includes most creatives, kind of blunder through most of our lives, rarely looking up at the things hanging overhead or down at the unassuming ground below us to see what is really going on around us.

But really, it’s not that we’ve never seen it before. That’s half of the problem; we’ve seen most of it. It takes a pretty incredible vision of the world around us rendered in a vivid and uncanny style to drag us out of our safe zone to try to understand what we’re seeing. That’s the function of ‘high’ art: to provoke us to see the world with new eyes, the eyes of the eternal child within us, who is often underemployed in our later life.

The problem, of course, is that at a very early age, we start indoctrination into the framework of accepted worldviews that our societies encourage us to hold. It molds and colours our view, our expectations and our understandings of what the world around us means. We know this, and take it for granted, but really, it’s rather insidious just how crippling this form of institutionalisation is, even as it—with the very best of intentions—attempts to empower (at least some of) us to Get Things Done. Without a consensus on how society works, we can’t properly function within it for long.

However, it makes us artificially blind to new ideas, or to new ways of looking at things we take for granted. Even simple ideas like all men AND women are created equal, despite race, creed or nationality, is something we still struggle to enshrine in our worldview to this very day. We’ve progressed just far enough to accept that something isn’t quite right, but so many of us are stuck in the past, while some of us have moved so far ahead that we’re practically talking a different language when we try to educate our fellow man to see the new reality clearly and stand with us.

And that’s part of what art, literature and music are designed to do: Some of us celebrate the life we have, while others try to pierce the veil of certainties to illustrate the list of things that still need fixing. And it’s important for all of us to understand this sacred function of creatives in our society. We can’t suborn creative thought to merely decorate our dens with complimentary colours. We need to understand, at least a little, that expressing ideas and shaking worldviews is the main purpose of art. From the days when primitive man scraped red earth on cave walls to illustrate hunting techniques and past events for fellow humans to learn from, creatives have always sought to inspire paradigm shifts, to evolve the species intellectually and emotionally beyond the stagnant, cruel practices we enshrine with every other generation.

I wish I had a piece of art I felt best encapsulated this concept, but sadly, I’m a little short on scanned art to show you that I think communicates this point clearly at the moment. However, my agent owns a piece of art that, though very simple, expresses one concept that can be looked at a number of ways, but nevertheless illustrates a message pretty clearly:

The Apology

Time for me to get some work done. Hope I shared something useful today. Thanks for reading.


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