What the heywhoo is art?

I have to admit: I’m addicted to metaphysics. By this I do NOT mean something new-agey or cosmic or involving psychics. It’s an old philosophy thing–the study of the descriptions of what exists. Such a thing leads some to think of god(dess)(e)s, but I don’t think there is/are such things, although the history of thinking about such things is fascinating, if for no other reason than that humans seem strangely prone to such things, such things. One of my favorite metaphysical questions is ‘What is Art?’. I have many fond memories of strange, otherworldly, privileged people (translation: academics) carrying on in embarrassingly affected manners about this art work or that bit of music, involving, usually, large sweeps of the arms, half-closed eyes, and really silly assumptions about art, artists, art consumers, and meaning. My particular pet peeve, having come up in the 70s and 80s from when one could never avoid these types, are those that claim both the artistic expression and the taking in of the art is to do with individualism and subjectivity. The artist is so unique and the work so unique and let’s talk about our feelings!!

Posh! Really.

An art work is an aspect of being. DOING art is what artists DO, but it is because they have developed, along with impossibly complex skills, a way of seeing their experiences, their worlds, and not run screaming from it all. It’s transformation or translation or SOMETHING transy. This is not individualism because it is difficult to get anything resembling a subjective thought/experience that is not inhabited by billions and billions (hello Carl Sagan) of cultural and social influences, most of which are both mundane and not apparent to the artist or the art-peeker. 

But, a work of art is it’s own existent. There is no other that is actually it. So an artist is s/he who brings something into being which remains only itself. Sort of like a person with no biological processes involved in his/her birthing. Frankensteinesque, I guess.

I think aloud for a living. Now I’m writing aloud for no reason at all. Peachy. Welcome!

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6 thoughts on “What the heywhoo is art?

  1. I guess my question (and I mean it as true question and not simply another argument) is whether one can talk about what makes art art without talking about, for instance, the capacity for creativity and how that works in human experience. I like metaphysics to, but can we even begin to talk about what that thing art in isolation from the doing, from the creative intention? I like thought experiments (in the Einstein sense). Can we try to imagine how art first emerged? What were the conditions? Was the first piece[s] of art recognized as such by it’s creator or some other party? When I think about such thing, I tend to think in a kind of speculative anthropological/evolutionary terms. Am I way off in my response?

    Thanks for starting your blog. I want to start one to. Perhaps you have inspired me, Love you old friend!

  2. All righty, then! Let’s talk about art! Are you aware there is a Gears of War advertisement following your piece? I’ll put a link to yours on my blog when I get a chance : ) Do you have Sitemeter (or something like it)?

  3. OK, I think I follow you so far; “Art” is what artists do, or what remains when the artist is done. As a performance artist, I can buy that. But what about, say, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity? The beauty of this work takes my breath away, but is it art or merely discovery? Perhaps the practical information derived from is something that someone else “skilled in the art” may have been able to produce, but it took Einstein and his vision to bring it forth.

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