What Is Art For?

Five things art might be able to do for us:

1. Art keeps us hopeful – most popular works of art in the world show pretty things, happy people, flowers in spring, blue skies.

This enthusiasm for prettiness worries serious types of people – they wonder have people forgotten what life is really like? That is a misplaced worry. We need pretty things close because terrible problems weigh heavily on us – were in danger of slipping into despair and depression.

Prettiness is an emblem of hope and achievement. Pretty art is hope bottled and preserved for when we need it.

2. Art makes us lonely – beneath our surface there is a lot of sadness and regret we cant express for fear of seeming weird. Art can reassure us of the normality of pain – it can be sad with and for us.

Somber works of art and music dont have to depress us rather give us the welcome feeling that pain is part of the human condition.

Art fights the forced optimism of commercial society – there to remind us with dignity that every good life has confusion, suffering, loneliness, and distress within it.

3. Art re-balances us – were too intellectual, too emotional, too masculine, too feminine, too calm, or too excitable. The art we love is often what we are drawn to because it compensates for what we lack. Counterbalances us.

When moved by a work of art, it may be because it contains concentrated doses of qualities we need more of in our lives. Perhaps its serenity we admire but dont have. Or tenderness we long for but that our jobs and relationships currently lack. Perhaps its of pain and drama weve had to stifle but want to get in touch with.

A whole society can fall in love with a style in art because its trying to re-balance itself. The art a person or a county calls beautiful give vital clues as to whats missing in them – its in the power of art to keep us more balanced, rounded and sane

4 – Art helps us to appreciate stuff – media gives us hints as to what is glamorous and important. So does art but it focuses on different things – grass, sky, oranges from van gough, the seemingly mundane. Teasing out a value thats been neglected by a world with a deeply distorted sense of what matters.

Art returns glamour to its rightful place – highlighting whats genuinely worth appreciating.

5 – Art is propaganda for what really matters – unlike war or govt propaganda, art is a sort of propaganda in the sense of a tool that motivates and energizes one for a cause. Only its propaganda for some of the most important and nicest emotions and attitudes in the world.

Propaganda about the simple life or the need to broaden ones horizons or a more playful, tender approach to life. A force that stands up for the best sides of human nature and gives them a platform and authority.

Art has attracted a little too much mystique and reverence for its own good – we get stiff and lose our spontaneity in its presence. We should relax around it like music and learn to use it for its meant for – a constant source of support and encouragement for our better selves.