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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
Art can be a distraction, and it can be a soother of pains, and bad art – that which is emotionless and riddled with clichés – can play merely a performative and derisory function. But it seems to me that Hegel cares too fully on how art takes one away from reality, rather than bringing them closer to it, fully realising it.
Paul Ricoeur, in his essay ‘The Metaphorical Process as Cognition, Imagination, and Feeling’ states something akin to this very notion.
Poetic language is no less about reality than any other use of language [. . . .] [It] suggests, reveals, unconceals – whatever you say – the deep structures of reality [. . . .] [It] contributes concretely to the projection of new possibilities of redescribing the world.
Whilst Ricoeur is specifically talking about is poetic language, the same applies for all of the arts. Unlike Hegel, Paul Ricoeur suggests that the arts bring us closer to reality rather than distance us from it. Iain Thomas, when talking about the work of Vincent Van Gogh, says, ‘What happens here? What is at work in the work? Van Gogh's painting is the revelation [Eröffnung] of what equipment, the pair of farmer shoes, is in truth. This entity steps out here into the unconcealment of its being. This unconcealment is what the Greeks called alêtheia.’ Indeed, isn’t it art that makes us look at the world differently? This is the exact ‘unconcealment’ that he is talking about.
Perhaps the reason the arts take so much flack is that, at their core, they are something intangible. Art evokes feelings, emotions that can either be uplifting, striking, sobering, even contradictory. But this evocation is what it is to be human; we don’t speak in terms of numbers, we don’t think in terms of scientific equations. Images, sensory stimuli, is what evokes any true feeling out of us.
This is the point of Shakespeare. Art subjects should be taught with a great deal of profundity, because it is exactly art which not only opens eyes, but can change lives.
If we are to continue in the current trajectory, where STEM is exalted as some kind of supremacy over the arts, then what will we become but some vapid pieces of flesh confused at the swirling, colourful mass going on inside us.
The next time someone recommends a book, a gallery, a film or theatre piece, really think about what they are saying. In this recommendation lies an admonition of revelation, of wordless pleasure – the pinprick on nerve endings that is art.