Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scott Cairns, Why we make art

This was so good and profound that I had to put it up here. It comes from Scott Cairns' book The End of Suffering that we're reading for creative nonfiction. 

He says, 

our taking pains to make anything well could be understood, in one sense, as a consolation for things around us that appear to be poorly fashioned. 

Any well-made thing--whether held in the hand or viewed from afar-- stands in stark contrast to the shoddy around us: a manifestly disastrous economic system, for instance, or criminal corporate strategies and structures, or cyclical erosions of our political and legal institutions , or-- just so you don't think I'm simply pointing fingers here-- the chagrin of our own faltering, sputtering lives, dissipated in self-defeating habits and distractions. 

Good art is something of a consolation; good art is potentially something more-- bearing what might turn out to be a corrective, a remedial agency. 

Good art certainly serves as a consolation for those relatively few who make it, especially for those exceptional folk who struggle to make it well. Laboring over the wheel, the canvas, the written page, or the musical score can being to the laborer a powerfully consoling sense of purpose... (he quotes and summarizes some Steiner and the transcendent)... 

For Steiner, then, the act of making art, of writing literature, and of composing music demonstrates an implicit expectation of a reality that abides beyond (and perhaps within) what is apparent, a reality that provides the necessary context for any significance, any meaning making. 

For the artist of any art, therefore, it is not surprising that these labors can provide a deeply satisfying consolation, giving witness to one's own subconscious hope, one's own implicit-- avowed or disavowed-- faith. 

From pp. 26-29. Read more. He goes on to talk about the benefits of art for the ones receiving it/viewing it. 

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