What is the purpose of a poem? of a well-told or well-written story? of an elegant and innovative equation? of an intense sonata for cello from Bach? Why should we study Homer, Plato, Shakespeare or Walt Whitman? Can a painting or a sculpture make tons of money? Maybe, if it benefits from posthumous glory or an extraordinary popularity.
Art is useless. Humanities too, from a financial perspective. But, if it were really useless, why do men pursue to create, to express themselves with words, music or drawings?
“Every artist is a precious, because he soothes the human world and the heart of men.” (Natsume Sôseki, Kasamakura)
The answer is not simple, and probably not even unique. Perhaps, the passion that stirs and supports every creation can reveal the best parts of the human heart, as well as the worst… in a beautiful, striking way. Human nature is quite a living paradox, torn between its mortality and its desire for eternity. We cannot escape pain or death, but we can make life sweeter, somehow.
Like Shelley said in his Ode to the Lark :
“We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Yet, if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.”
Art, a way to soothe human restlessness, by offering a glimpse of beauty? A way to feel alive, by exploring the depths of our minds? An answer to the “I can’t get no satisfaction ” that rocks and rolls in our heads? Perhaps, it’s here to remind us the famous Carpe Diem, yet with a great vision of eternity, as Walt Whitman invites to do :
“The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse”
What would happen if we tried to be a little more useless, in a creative way? Let’s begin the use-less mutation! Waiting for your verses 🙂
In my opinion, art is a message in a bottle, floating on the flows of Time.