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.
Does “life imitate art” or “art imitate life”? Is bollywood, and the need to have 5 dance sequences in a movie a consequence of indian society, or are these 5 dance sequences going to marr indian society forever? Is it like in europe where “the nineteenth century is largely an invention of Balzac”, will indian society in the 21st century be largely an invention of Shah Rukh khan? or will it be Chetan Bhagat? The horror… or can someone explain why bollywood movies in the nineties talked so much about what seems to be a rather middle-ages western invention of “romantic love”. Is hero worshiping our actors inherent to us?… Have the indian words for “love” and “romance” changed meaning with the introduction of the english words? Did teenagers suffer less heartbreak before the english? Before christianity? Would we have made such nonsensical films back then? Is it the words? Did this word, “romance” which had its own life in western history fall into the wrong hands in the 90s in bollywood? And what are going to be the repercussions of this? How can a country that suffers so much poverty spend that much money watching something as frivolous as romantic love? “We see coming out then, in fresh souls, this sickness that we call romanticism, this Christianity without illusions and without myths which reflects, even more, its sickly dryness. All the evil of the romanticism comes form the confusion between that which is necessary to us and that which we desire. We have all needs indispensable to life, to its maintenance and its continuity, and we desire all of us a life more perfect, complete happiness, the realization of our dreams. It is human to want that which is necessary to us, and it is human to desire, that which is unnecessary. That which is sickly, is to desire with the same intensity the necessary and the desirable, and to suffer our lack of perfection like we would suffer lack of bread. The sickness of romanticism lies there, it is to want the moon as though there was a way to obtain it.” -F. Pessoa (poorly translated)
Life is flawed, its minutes and hours too long, its years and decades too short. We are left with a faint odor of the past, unable to even see clearly what we have already seen. The function of Art is to rebel against the tyranny of life, of memory, to invert the situation. A decade is condensed into a book of a few hundred pages, a lifetime is condensed into a film of a few hours, a literary movement into a painting that lies clearly before our eyes, the way life should be, but cannot be.