Recently a student of mine recommended that I should return to writing on my blog. I said that I may do, if I ever get a spare 5 minutes. I fear that a spare five minutes may be rarity, however there is something that I wish to write that I feel passionate about but can't quite articulate it clearly enough to currently convince questioning students. Therefore I have decided to write it down as a sort of manifesto or a document to defend my specialism if in some dystopian future, art is decided to be an insignificance, or a luxury that can be wiped from our lives. I have decided to write this in a slightly 'it's a wonderful life' style response, considering what a world would look like where art is forced into extinction.
Why bother studying art? What is the point? It's of no use.
Good question why indeed? What is the point? Why
bother with the aesthetic? Why not get rid of anything that favours the aesthetic over functionality.
We could start by closing all the art galleries, the obvious first port of call, where they hang all the pointless, the
pretentious and elitist. Nothing functional there at all. We could save millions and put that into medical research or healthcare, which could eventually extend our lives to say 200 years.
We could then move on to the designers, fashion,
architecture and all other forms of aesthetic design. One car design or colour is as functional as the next, one building or item of clothing shape or colour just as functional. There is no need to visually enhance them.
Once rid of this futile embellishment of our surroundings we can rid ourselves of anything else that favours the aesthetic over the functional until we become a super functional
long living species.
We will functionally drive to work in our square grey cars
wearing our grey suits to our square grey office buildings all of them perfectly functional. Living our perfectly functional 200 years.
Then one day, say on our 175th birthday we will climb to the top of a hill on a late summers afternoon, sit down and pull out a book. The book would be called 'male and female' and would be one page long. Because adding a title like Romeo and Juliet and adding some extended elaborate text would be just, to misquote Shakespeare "guilding the f#*cking lily".
You would look out to the horizon after finishing your inadequate but functional novel and take in the natural beauty in front of you. The only remaining beauty, now that all the non functional man made beauty had been done away with.
Then one day, because of you not being trained to see beauty or have any interest in it, you would now no longer have the ability to even see beauty in the natural world. You would look out at the horizon and only think functionally. You would not see the beauty of the millions of colours of the autumn leaves blowing in the wind. You would only see the season...that it was time to harvest food or buy warmer clothing. Your thoughts would be no more advanced than any other animal, the only importance, success and survival of their species.
Art is the most important of subjects, it should not be an options subject but a compulsory subject. It is the only solely human subject. Maths and other sciences, Computing and technology make us functional, advance our understanding of the world around us.
English and other languages help us communicate with each other. History and geography tell us where we are and where we’ve been. All important, However all of these subjects are not solely human. All other animals use the scientific method to ensure the survival of their species, all animals use their own form of language to communicate with each other whether to attract a mate or ward off a competitor. They are aware of their surroundings and to some measure, their history. Even subjects like Music and dance, which are thought most similar to Art, are used in nature for functional purposes, to attract a mate.
‘A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it.’
I have little doubt that no government would endorse the comments that I have just made. Who needs the aesthetic or the useless when you can have the functional? A government wants a functional population to work the machines and pay the taxes, the last thing it needs is a population who ‘blossom for their own joy”, a population who are observant of their surroundings because of the being taught to do so, a population who think creatively and inspire others to so.
A population like this makes a government less confident of their control over the plebs. A population that lacks a creative mindset becomes a sitting duck for a dictatorship.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Cesar A. Cruz
Spend a small amount of time looking at the countries with the least human rights, with the least personal freedoms and you will find countries with no individual creativity and no art, unless it has been state or church authorized, culminating, eventually in the non existence of the individual, only the state and its subjects.
Art is pointless…what is the point in studying it? You could ask the populations of many Middle Eastern countries or maybe North Korea, but I fear that their ability to answer such a question may no longer be part of their psyche.