Our Value of Art
Art is a thoughtful, emotional expression. It has many forms, such as painting, sculpture, architecture and the written word. Rousseau proposes, "Instead of thinking of life as something to which signs and texts are added to represent it, we should conceive of itself as suffused with signs (Culler 12)." For these purposes the signs which Rousseau identifies are works of art. This statement speaks to the inseparable quality of life and art. Since life and art are connected they invariably affect one another. Life is inherently chaotic. This prompts the creation of art, which consequently promotes the stasis of chaos. Art's effect on society demands that we decide whether we value art enough to risk our own undoing.
Human beings are psychologically driven creatures. As a result their endeavors are similarly psychologically driven. The compulsion to create is one of our most basic, primitive drives. From a psychological perspective this is known as sublimation, or the channeling of one's energy into a healthy, socially acceptable behavior. This behavior alludes to the idea that the act of creating something of significance makes up for life's troubles. This cognitive negotiation is known as rationalization. It would seem that productively acting in response to chaos would restore the good. However, this energy is misdirected. Channeling all of one's energy into art neglects the problems that truly need attention. In this way art is like putting a fresh coat of paint on a crumbling old home. Consider the Beat Generation. This was a passionate group of painters and poets who produced a massive body of work during the mid twentieth century. It is not a coincidence that they indulged heavily in promiscuous sex, hard drugs and maintained dysfunctional relationships with one another. This environment was the major catalyst that caused them to work. For instance, William S. Burroughs wrote his most famous novel, Naked Lunch, while under the influence of drugs. Rather than focusing on his personal problems he wrote. This addiction progresses so aggressively that he eventually shot his wife in the head while under the influence. In this instance Burroughs' art did nothing to mend his troubled existence, if anything his art perpetuated it.
Chaos manifests itself in many forms and can affect us independently, as it did with the Beats, or as humans collectively. It reaches all of us to varying extents in each aspect of our lives. Art is a symptom of chaos. Art cannot exist without chaos and chaos inevitably leads to the production of art. There is evidence of art reaching back to ancient cave drawings. Often the artists would depict hunt scenes, which are a smaller, more...