Our Value of ArtArt 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, h…
…sso wrote, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand (Picasso 321).” In regard to the relationship between art and chaos art is only a lie as long as its purpose remains unexamined. For some of us, regardless of the negative ties that art has to life, nonexistence is favorable to a life without it. Art teaches us that all wonderful things have ramifications. I would argue that the greatness of a masterpiece exponentially surpasses the harm it causes because it captures its chaotic origins and builds from them. It is as if life’s troubles have changed form and evolved into a worthwhile, undying entity.
1. Burroughs, William S., Naked Lunch, New York: 1959.2. Culler, Jonathan, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, New York: 1997.3. Picasso, Pablo, “Statement to Marvis de Zayas,” 1923.