What is Art? (or What Pontius Pilate Asked John Keats)

What is Art? (or What Pontius Pilate Asked John Keats) July 2, 2015


It is generally supposed that it is difficult to define art. Undergrad philosophy students, trying to look deep, will ask this question and then look off into space, their black berets perched askance upon the thoughtful brow, pondering deeply without generating any communicable thought. Ah the ineffable question. I will do better than supply the answer. I’ll give it to you twenty fold, and with panache.

Aggressive: Art is either a revolutionist or a plagiarist.

Papist: Every man is called to make of his own life a masterpiece.

Descriptive: Art is a form of communication using symbols, images, music, color, or movement to express a story or idea.

Paradoxical: Art is a lie that reveals the truth.

Gracious: Art is something which is utterly useless but which one admires intensely.

Truculent: Art is what I can get a grant for.

Pretentious Nihilistic: Art is my only escape from the tightening gyre of black darkness.

Tender: Art is a gift by which the soul bequeaths to others its feelings and experience.

Pedantic: Art is a field of human endeavor which is not a science, or a craft, or a sport, or a trade.

Cavalier: Art is mental cheesecake.

Emphatic: Art is a drive that seizes an individual, robs him of his free will, and causes him to become the “collective man” who shapes the unconscious psychic forces of mankind.

Dramatic: Art is the Queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.

Mystical: Art is the form that is given to an unspoken word of God: an incarnation.

Lyric: Art is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Naive: I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.

Auto-Erotic: Art is whatever an artist intends it to be.

Rustic: Art lifts man up to prepare him for work.

Stalinist: Art is what I tell you it is.

Practical: Art is whatever you can get away with.

Or. . .plagiarizing Pyramus’ sighs. . . ‘The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was!’

Photo credit: Pixabay

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