Skip to content

Art, Democracy, and Seasons

September 9, 2006

Art is too democratic for me. I distrust art for the same reasons I distrust democracy. Meaning is attributed to meaningless self-expression, and the foolish emperor prances when he should be embarrassed to death. Sound bites, sight bites; there isn’t any difference. Everyone is entitled to define his own terms, declare his own territory of thought, and oppose truth by hurling epithets such as, “elitist” and “absolutist.”

I acknowledge the notion of talent, but I do not usually connect it with art produced after the 17th century. I appreciate talented applications when they illustrate a concept in a pleasing way, which I qualify as graphic text, rather than “art.” But I realize this usage is likely to be peculiar to me. I consider myself artistically untalented, remaining transfixed at my Colorforms phase, but have now to resort to difficult computer-pad-dragging maneuvers instead of picking up little pieces of vinyl and arranging them in heart-stopping arrays. The trouble with Colorforms and computer palettes is that they come with a limited supply of unblendable colors.

Nature differs from art; is owes no limits to its materials. God created colors for his own good pleasure and ours, and he is not limited by materials as we are. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork” (Ps 19:1). What God declares is necessarily righteous, good, purposeful, and true. God has also judged men with bad statesmen ever since they first demanded a king and threw over God as their King. They got Saul, the Bubba of his day.

I acknowledge the notion of statesmanship, but I do not connect it to democracy. At the present time, I can think of no statesmen in the world, any more than I could name a favorite artist. Of course, I have neither experience nor gifts as a statesman, not even a Colorforms phase.

I am blessed to live where there are seasons, not harsh, but each distinct in its ways. My favorite is Fall. I love Fall chores–cutting things, bundling up dead things, bringing the sheaves to the barn, as it were…preparing for the time of no more work for a while. My husband, of course, does most of the tasks, but I like watching him work. I take pleasure in the ever-green bamboo I see from my study window, its long leaves glistening with golden dew in the cold dawn. I watch as it bends to the ground in the wind and stands upright again; it seems always to be in motion. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit Jn 3:8. I see effects of things; their origins I ponder in faith.

God created the seasons on the fourth day. They were here when he placed man in the garden on the sixth day. The seasons, like the rest of creation, were made for man and for God’s own good pleasure. What an incredible tribute. Man was given a cycle for managing the rest of the creation entrusted to him. And the cycle, like all else in creation, was made with beauty, and purpose, and colors, and wisdom beyond our apprehension.

And now, in the season of our sin, we see futile endeavors like sin-driven art, and candidates aspiring to be aliens from space, and we live in the season of perpetual Fall…a time of cutting things down, bundling up dead things, bringing the sheaves to the barn….


HZ said…
Are those nickels she is puffing out of her mouth??I think art is only so democratic because the impressionists came along and made soup of everything (not just what they were looking at, but the whole theory of beauty etc, that it is not so much what a thing is that we ought to see as what it is to us: why then bother looking at things outside of ourselves at all?). Also because we hesitate to say that some people endowed by their Creator with not only a better capacity for self expression but perhaps even a better self to express.

2:24 PM  
Mrs. B said…
“Nickels?” “her?” “mouth?” Oh yes, now I see it….I’d posit that egalitarianism and impressionism hold hands. I also like what Alexander Pope said, “What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed.”

I used to refer to a certain pop writer, now dead by overdose, like this: “A writer writes what anyone else could think but no one else could write. ‘R’ writes what no one else would think but anyone else could write.”

3:55 PM  
HZ said…
That is beautiful, Lauren. A great tribute to a mediocre man. Moving. In fact I’m going to get up now.
4:28 PM  
Victorbravo said…
I know the guy. He claimed to write about trout but he never went fishing. He didn’t have the skill to be practical and he didn’t have the intellect to be theoretical. Instead, he operated in that middle and nether realm of imagination disconnected from the substance.I like Bach’s version of Art: hard work leading to skilled craftsmanship tempered by form and directed to glorifying God.

There was nothing mystical about the process at all. He did not wait for a muse or yearn to define himself. Yet it ended up exquisite and sublime. I think it was because he was outer-directed (and upper-directed).

6:30 PM  
Ryan S. said…
I think I like fall the best too. It used to be summer, but that was when I was in school.
1:44 AM  
Mike Pitzler said…
I like the sublime reference to bamboo.I know a craftsman who hammers out exegesis in his cave of books and shows us his work on the Market Day of the Soul. Work that lasts and is good for the soul. An art that can be eaten and nourishes.

9:16 AM  
Mrs. B said…
Victorbravo: You finished my thought like a symphony.Ryan: So, if you return to school, will you again prefer summer over fall? Is your seasonal taste situational or intrinsic?

Mike: Next time you guys come over, we’ll have to sit out front and groove in the grove.

7:30 AM  

Comments are closed.