Monday, 14 December 2015

The practical value of art

At my birthday gathering I was asked the question: If the world were to end and you were part of the small number of survivors, what would you do? I said "I would write about it." Another friend said something to the effect that she would ask me to be more practical, because there were certain physical realities that we would not be able to escape, e.g. building houses, growing crops, etc.

My answer to this is that art is very valuable. It gives people a reason to keep labouring away at whatever it is they do. When the day's work is finished and we need a break, we turn to books or music or something along those lines to keep us inspired. Texts help us develop our ideals, which can be the reason we keep building things of immediate functionality. In fact, we wouldn't have the idea of 'immediate functionality' without an examination of human psychology.

What about the houses and other structures we build? They, too, are informed by ideas. We might decide to create curves where there would ordinarily be edges, to be aesthetically pleasing and/or original. We might decide on a colour scheme for our individual building which blends in with the surrounding buildings, or stands out. We could even alter the skyline of the city with our unique creation. It all start with an artistic concept, even if that concept is unobtrusive conformity.

Much has been made of the power of stories. A good narrative has the power to inspire people to take better care of themselves and each other, to reach out to the sick and the needy, or to aim higher in what they can achieve. A good narrative can make us happier and more fulfilled as we go about our daily lives.

I would even argue that inspiration is a very practical business. If I'm not inspired, why would I want to work in the first place? There has to be a point to life, otherwise it would be very bleak indeed. Someone, there, post-apocalypse, would be needed to keep morale high. I elect to be that person. :)

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