What is art?

What is art? Why is there a need for art? Why do paintings sell for millions of dollars? The rich couple, in furs, hats and coats walking back home to their fine mansion, built with the best architects of their time, their homes filled with the finest paintings and statues they can buy, they convert themselves into works of art, with perfumes, clothes, they read, or try and read the finest books, the finest poets. Why? Why do we go to cinema, what is this need to cultivate ourselves? Why do we try and read poetry, and try and listen to classical music, even thought it is so difficult to do so? Why do parents encourage their children to learn the piano, and why do we encourage them to read difficult literature? To speak well, to write well? Why do we visit museums, why is there an endless queue to glimpse at the Monalisa? They tell us there are forms of art, but they don’t tell us why we should seek Art, and what it IS. A different question: Why do young people smoke weed and and drink alcohol? Why do we party till late at night? What do we search for in sex? Why is their a drug problem, and the need to build more and more rehabilitation clinics. Like a scientist, finding the mechanism explaining seemingly disparate phenomena, Pessoa unifies and answers the two questions in this paragraph, again, poorly translated: “Art delivers us, in an illusionary way, from this sordid thing that we are. As long as we experience suffered by Hamlet, prince of Denmark, we do not experience our own, vile because they are ours, and vile, simply because they are vile. Love, sleep, drugs are forms of elementary art. Or more precisely, elementary ways of creating the same effects as art. But love, sleep and drugs, each bring with them a particular form of dissillusion. Love wearies us, or dissapoints. After sleeping we wake up, and whilst we sleep, we have not lived. Drugs come with a price, the destruction of the organism, even if it has served to stimulate it. But in art, there is no dissilusion, because we admit illusion from the beginning. From art, there is no waking up, because we do not sleep, even if we dream. No price to be payed, in art, to enjoy it. The pleasure in art does not belong to us, strictly speaking, so we don’t need to pay for it, either in suffering, or in remorse. By the word art, it should be understood, all that is source of pleasure without belonging to us: a smile offered to another, the sun setting, the poem, the universe. To possess is to lose, to feel without possessing is to conserve, because it is to extract from everything its essence” The rich couple walking back home from the opera, stumble upon a drunkard smoking weed, the former finds the latter repugnant, and the latter mocks the former. They don’t understand each other, but Pessoa understands them both, and know they are looking for the same thing. O master Pessoa, O prophet of our times. Technoscience, alone, will not solve the mountain of human suffering, it isn’t because we have a name for the synapses that go off when we are sexually excited, or the mechanism surrounding it, that we know what sexual excitation IS. Nothing science tells me is of any value to me, but science is of value to me when it is art. “Everything you ever need to know, you shall know from a poet”. Technoscience is arrogant and it is destroying humanity, converting us into machines, leading the world to transhumanism. It isn’t because we know what hormone is released when we fall in love that we know what love IS. To disintegrate the mountain of human suffering we need subtle force of Art, which unlike a hammer does not try vainly try to break it down, but like water, it seeps into its crevices, and weakens it, till it collapses. The mountains of this world bow to the water bodies, not the other way around. Technoscience must bow to art, and not the other way around.

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