Re: MD What Good Are the Arts?

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Tue May 31 2005 - 15:27:00 BST

  • Next message: Scott Roberts: "Re: MD What Good Are the Arts?"

    Hi David H:

    > My understand of the MOQ gives the following answers to these questions
    > raised
    > What is a work of art? Anything.

    In SODV, Pirsig says, "In 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' art
    was defined as high quality endeavor. I have never found a need to add
    anything to that definition." So your answer, "Anything" is too broad IMO.
    A fluorescent painting of Elvis on black velvet hardly qualifies as art.
    > Is high art superior? No. Although some who appreciate the art and the word
    > argue that their social standing increases if they do so. At one stage
    > this was the popular opinion and this explains the existence of the term.

    Like everything else, some art is better than other art. Recall Pirsig's
    analogy of truth being like paintings in a gallery, some being higher
    quality than others. Also see Ken Wilber's comment below. Some people do
    use art for snob appeal as you rightfully point out, but that merely
    reflects human nature which, in spite of some people's wishes, is unlikely
    to change.
    > Can science help? Yes, science is simply another form of the same thing.
    > (SODV)

    Pirsig differentiates art and science as "different aspects of the same
    human purpose." So I'm not sure that one aspect can "help" the other, even
    though the purpose is the same.

    > Do the arts make us better? Of course.

    My first reaction was to agree. But then I thought of some of the Nazis
    who coveted the arts.

    > Can art be a religion? Is art religion already? As said earlier, art is
    > anything. What I think he was referring to here however is a 'devotion' to
    > the concept of art, kind of like a religion complete with heretics and
    > priesthoods. In this regard he is probably right but it is a stretch and
    > in my opinion it doesn't improve our understanding of art or religion, so
    > such a devision, while not incorrect, is not very valuable either.

    I agree in the sense you describe. But, art, like religion, has the power
    to show Spirit, if only for a fleeting moment. It's power is aptly
    described by a line from the play, "Becket" by Jean Anouilh:

    "Beauty is one of the rare things that do no lead to doubt of God."

    Or, from Ken Wilber:

    "An object possesses beauty to the extent that it is transparent to the
    Divine, that it allowes the One to shine through it."

    And also from Ken Wilber:

    "Bad art copies; good art creates; great art transcends. To the extent
    that an artwork can usher one into the nondual, to that extent it is
    spiritual and universal, whether it actually depicts bugs of Buddhas. I am
    not the only one, for example, who sees Van Gogh's landscapes as drenched
    in Spirit." (both quotes from "Eye to Eye" by Ken Wilber)

    Anyway, thanks for your response. Art, Beauty and Quality are subjects of
    endless fascination as they lie at the heart of what it means to be a
    human being. The total inability of materialists to come to grips with
    Art, Beauty and Quality is their Achilles heel. Of that which is most
    important to us, that makes life worth living, materialists have nothing
    to say.


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