Thinking about art and how it seems to be our only refuge in this massive cluster fuck collision of free speech and capitalism.
What information do we see or seek out on a daily basis? Basic news (politics, business, wars, fuck ups, crime, tragedies) and analysis or opinion of basic news. We also have information about the latest research, innovation, stories that boost our faith in humanity, cat Vines and flashmob links, science discoveries, technology love and hate, religious debates, rants, make-up how-tos, tabloid television, entertainment.
Make a typo in your search bar and you’ll find all sorts of crazy shit we seek: what do rich people buy, how can I be sure/happy/rich, why do we dream, why do people cheat, I thought it was just me, I thought hurricane season was…
We seem to be seeking out a reflection of ourselves, even if it’s a tiny or fleeting glimpse. But the immediacy and superficial nature of interaction online seems to be kicking art’s fucking ass.
Poor art. It was once the most sought after chance to spot a glimmer of ourselves. Why has this changed? Have we become more shallow by seeking out aesthetic reflections only instead of the long forgotten thrill of coming across a reflection of our souls? Or is there just too much easily accessible competition these days?
Does art not speak to the latest generations? Are they too cool (literally) for art? Has art out-ironiczied itself? Artistic license means I get to use ironic as a verb. Look it up in the Essential Artist’s Hand Guide, revised edition 205,758, Jan 2013.
Novels, poetry, paintings, sculpture, Van fucking Gough, music, movies and comedy routines that have a point, a message, a glimpse of a soul. A cathartic release. Laughter is as important a release as crying, screaming and orgasm.
Why does art exist? Why do most artists pour our hearts and souls out through whichever medium we have been blessed with? Money? BAHAHA! No. As mentioned above, art is not currently enjoying an era of great financial abundance. In fact, many mediums have never or very rarely brought most artists any financial abundance. We bare our souls (sometimes in greatly protected ways) so that you may glimpse a sliver of a reflection of your own soul.
On some level, we know or want to believe that our souls are similar. We want to see that reflected back to us, too.
And hallelujah that there are artist out there who have been able to reflect souls on a great and approachable scale, giving us novels and movies and music that have influence – actual influence – on popular culture.
Maybe the newest generations have outgrown a desire to explore art because they do not understand the need for subtleties when baring our souls. Maybe the only way to teach these generations to read us is by becoming dauntless in the terrifying act of revealing our souls. Successful art to me is any art that has authentically captured a glimmer of a soul.
Artists may well be the last to fully let go of the fear of standing naked in the ring because this fear has been driven into us over lifetimes and we walk the edge daily. But should we drop metaphor? No way. Metaphor can be so beautiful, and is actually itself an important metaphor for how we perceive and process life. If metaphor is important, how do we invite audiences in? How do we affect the disconnect?
To truly enjoy art, we must participate in it. We must be willing to get lost in a story or a moment while at the same time reflecting on how this makes us feel. And what it means that we feel the way we do when we read or hear or see a certain thing.
To catch an authentic glimmer of a soul, we must bring ourselves into the ring with the artists. This may sound scary, but it’s a private thing. The beauty of art is that we can step into the ring with the artist without needing to reveal ourselves to anyone but ourselves. My hope is that we haven’t, as a society, become so numb to our feelings that we are too afraid to take the risk of revealing ourselves to ourselves.
And to the artists, I say fuck the labels, fuck the fear. Let’s all make more art. Let’s make enough art to choke The Internet (or at least bog parts of it down). Maybe in this way, we will redefine what it means to be a rebel.