Ready to wax philosophical? Let’s step into another world.
This world is fraught with peril. Its corridors are long and empty and the only sounds you will hear are natural. No music. No paintings. No poetry. Just people milling about their affairs.
This is a world without art. What does it look like to you?
Is it a wasteland? Is it an empty, grey expanse? Or did life go on very much the same, just with fewer objects on walls and atop pedestals? This world exists in your mind, so naturally, it forms as you see it.
The Intrinsic Value of Art
To many, art has deep intrinsic value. In their minds, this world without art was dealt a heavy blow.
Intrinsic value has different definitions depending on the context. In ethics, intrinsic value refers to something having value “in itself” or “for its own sake”. That’s to say, art is valuable by the virtue of being art and nothing more. No additional justification is needed.
When stretching this idea of a world without art a little further, art is also the sharpest of double edged swords. Art has the power to enlighten, purify, inspire, illuminate, and beautify the world. From the hands of someone with ill intentions, art also has the power to destroy, disenfranchise, uproot, obfuscate the truth, or even create war. Sometimes, that is even its very intention. This is something worth considering as you create your world without art.
Art depends on intent and impact. Like speech, art can take on whatever form it is given; thus you have room for both poetry and hate speech depending on the person who is speaking.
In either case, art causes reaction. It is the first domino in a series of events and sets at length the pace of the dominoes as they fall.
EARTH & WATER
Look around your world without art. Has it changed? Let’s take another step forward and consider art from a few more perspectives.
With the right dose and ferocity, the gentle pitter-patter of rain can become an awesome tidal wave. Or on a smaller scale, it can simply water your vegetable garden to feed you.
One could argue art is like water in this way. It can be fed to you through a garden hose or a fire hose, and you can imagine the different experiences.
It’s curious that the letters used for spelling art are contained within “water” and “earth”. While this can easily be ascribed to total coincidence, perhaps in our deeper understanding of things, there is no coincidence at all.
The famous quote by Lao Tzu comes to mind. “Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.”
Soft, yet hard, transformative, yet gentle. Sound familiar? While we all know how important water is to life on earth, can we say the same for art? Is art the soft yet powerful force that shapes and erodes the sand around us to reveal our heart and soul? Does it reveal the jewel of the mountain – the jewel of our creation?
A World Without Art: A Collated View
At the root of this thought experiment, a single question seems to emerge. Is art essential?
At Art Force, we hope and believe it is. But we don’t want to sit around in an echo chamber.
The following quotes were borrowed from BrainyQuotes.com – for anyone who wishes to wax-on in their own time. Remember that a world without art would also be a world without these quotes, names, insights or thoughts. Something more to consider.
According to George Bernard Shaw, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” Much of the prevailing quotes surrounding art are somewhat to this tune. “Unbearable” is a strong and arguably fitting word. But what would actually make life so unbearable without art?
What happens when we get a little more granular? Let’s spend just a few more moments musing on this thought and pealing back the layers.
Art & Individualism
According to Oscar Wilde, “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.”
By this take, a world without art is also a world without individualism. In the United States, so much of our identity is built on individualism. Yet even under different political regimes and systems, individualism is simply impossible to snuff out.
While humans are a communal species, we are fiercely independent to our core. However our individualism arose is beyond the scope of this article. But one thing is for certain – humanity could not be the same without individualism. Score one for a world with art!
Art & Empathy
Consider the words of Marcel Proust. “Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.”
Like individualism, empathy is part of what makes us human. It’s our ability to feel for others – to relate and sympathize – that leads to charity, sharing, and uplifting others who cannot uplift themselves. One might even argue that the act of creating art is an act of empathy. It is outstretching a hand into the darkness for someone who needs it.
Without art, could we empathize? This is another aspect to consider in your world without art.
Art & Expression
In a world without art, there is no doubt we’d lose a great form of expression. In the words of Georgia O’Keeffe, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
A world without art would mostly be letters and numbers. Our expression would be limited to language, math and physical demonstration. Is this a world worth living in?
A World with Art
One may argue that one of art’s primary functions is to beautify the world. It also seeks to philosophize and peel back the mysteries of life until they fit squarely between the four corners of the frame. You could draw out all of your hours on this Earth just reading quotes and philosophy about the nature and value of art.
Hopefully this at least made you pause to appreciate the art we so easily take for granted. Could you live without individualism, empathy or expression? Could you live in a world without art? We’d love to hear your take in the comments.