Thursday, January 19, 2006

Objectivist Discussions of Art

[On Noodlefood, in a post titled "Chimp Art", Diana has some great links for those of you art buffs who would like to test yourself on true or fake modern art pieces. The following post is a slightly modified version of my earlier discussions about Art and its purpose in human life. I also highly recommend reading "What Art Is" by Torres & Marder Kamhi. Also check out their website at for much more interesting discussions of Art from an Objectivist-oriented perspective.] The Objectivist philosophy correctly understands Art as spiritual nourishment for the human consciousness. And just as you would not feed your body foul and rotten food that is infested with worms, you should not feed your mind and your consciousness with foul creations of charlatans masquarading as Artists. You have the right to insist that Art be as nourishing to your mind as the food you eat is to your body. The works of Art created by the Greats like Da Vinci, Raphaelo, Giotto, Beethoven, Michaelangelo, all have one common theme running through them: they lead the human mind to visions of greatness, to the idealization of the human form and of the human condition -- while that greatness was perceived to belong to or come from Divine Beings, nonetheless, the invariable consequence of focusing on such greatness was to create a desire within feeble humans the urge to get as close as possible to that sense of the highest height. The notion that humans were frail and feeble and the Divine was the ideal of everything good and desirable, was accepted as self-evident in a culture that believed in God, heaven, hell, souls, spirits, and ghosts. So, how did we regress from that wonderful vision of high ideals being recorded in Art, to the rubbish being splattered across our faces today, to the trash being piled up in front of our yards as “Ready-made Art”, to the jibberish being recited in our schools, to the maniacal gyrations of modern hip-shakers? If history can give us any indication, the nature and sophistication of Art in a civlization gives great predictions to the future of that culture. European and western civilizations have flourished the most with its Art indicating idealistic representations of the Human individual form, of Human life and endeavors, of Human achievements, while African and South Asian civilizations in particular have grotesquely disfigured the Human form, idealizing, for example the cow or the snake over the human form. And we can see evidence of robust, thinking minds are primarily in cultures that have nourished their spirits with the visions of greatness in their own human images, what they perceive to be "God-like" images. Infact, the judeo-christian culture made God look like Man, in Man's image and in Man's creation, and thus elevated Man itself to the status of God.This must have obviously served as a great boost to the human ego, allowing Man to gain such tremendous self-confidence in his ability to know more and become more like the God he created. This self-identification with God Himself allowed Humans to perceive the Universe with the Intelligence that was only thought possibile to gods. Primitive man did not understand the Universe nor did they seek much to understand it. They merely bowed their heads and worshipped it. The consequence of the Christian movement was to elevate man's pride in being Human, and thus seek to perceive the world as God would. In what was truly man's greatest act of conceit, he captured all the greatest notions of his God and manifested that in the body of ONE HUMAN BEING - Jesus, which meant that the Human body was idealized and to withhold the essence of the fully Divine. The representations in the Art forms that resulted from such a boost of human ego caused by the Christian movement, I believe, captured that human-divine idealization, which also spurred the nourishment of the Human consciousness that was pulled to elevated levels of aspirations, which increased the level of our own assessment of worth and intelligence and esteem... finally, resulting in the amazing and enlightening evidences of human genius in other spheres of the physical sciences and technology. On the other hand, evidence of mal-nourished minds are also closely associated with mal-nourished cultures and societies. They have plenty of hissing snakes and meandering cows to worship, but very few thinking minds that have a vision to look up to. And so, I am afraid of what might happen to our culture now if we permit the unrestrained assault of all that rubbish being dished out as art to the sanctity of our minds. Are we deliberately permitting the poisoning of our spiritual food? Will we be witnesses to the fall of our own civilization, to the stagnation of mal-nourished minds, to the vile odor of decaying consciousness?


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