ART IS NOT USELESS! Yet another rant from an art student

Click here for the first rant: https://udontsan.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/art-is-not-useless-rant-from-an-art-student/

Is art necessary? Of course it is. It’s not just an “interest”, a “hobby”, or “something you get into”. I am tired of people who treat art like it’s optional, like it’s secondary, an additional “limb” attached to the body of our scientific and rational reality that can be easily disposed or neglected. In my previous rant, I talked about how art is about self-expression. It’s about expressing yourself and showcasing who you are in various ways. It is also about connecting with the people around you. You don’t have to be Shakespeare to be called an artist. In that light, we cannot live without art or what art represents, because it is impossible for us to become devoid of self-expression. The lack of self-expression implicates the lack of choice, and that kind of life only exists in dystopian fiction. When applied to mankind, it will most surely and ultimately fail.

Compared to science, art may be subjective, abstract, irrational, fleeting, and exasperatingly undefinable. There are skills, techniques, and rules involved with the practical applications of art, but art is not a discipline. It may not help you through your next job, may not help you get your down payment, and, as a fact, it may not get you the financial resources you need to survive. This may be a fact, that art cannot necessarily guarantee your physical survival in our increasingly materialistic and spiritually deprived society. When you apply for a job in a company, creativity or artistic genius is probably not valued as much as your skills in accounting or management. (That is not to say that those skills are unimportant, of course.)

Maybe. Maybe we don’t need art to survive. But my argument is this, once again: we cannot live without art. Imagine a world without art. Imagine there has never been art. How do we know our history? How do we know what kind of people we were? How do we signify ourselves, express our individuality, our thoughts, our voice, our differences, our dreams, our aspirations? If everything is 1+1=2–if our reality is nothing but an equation–how do we know what kind of lives we have led? What do we use to capture spirit?

History cannot exist without art. Culture cannot exist without art. We cannot exist without art. We are not machines; we are human. We don’t just exist by statistics or patterns or equations. Maybe you are not an artist; maybe literature is not your thing; maybe music is not your thing. Or maybe you don’t think art can provide you with a stable income to feed yourself or your family. But don’t say art is not necessary. It would be as big of a lie as saying science is not necessary.

Art is what distinguishes us from a mindless, soulless existence. Art, is not useless.

~

So I decided to end the blog post here, but I did end up writing more. I will attach it at the bottom of this post as an “add-on”, because it doesn’t really fit into the mood of this rant. Instead, it’s kind of contradictory–but I thought I would include it anyhow, as food for thought…and of course, while ideals stand in full light, there are always shadows that accompany them.

Maybe, maybe more and more people devalue art is because the comforts of modernity have masked the truth we all refuse to face: that most of us are all just surviving–worrying over our next paycheck, worrying over the shortage of time, fighting so hard for stability, and fighting so hard for that stability to last. Maybe we no longer have the time to create, enjoy or appreciate art. Who cares about art when we have mouths to feed, bills to pay off, and debts to balance? Who cares about art when the only thing we can care about is survival?

What will these artistic aspirations be, then? This grand poetic view on art and life that I have?

Words. They will be nothing but empty words.

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