First of all, what is art?
There’s a lot of controversy over the question of what constitutes art, especially in the world of video gaming. Many gamers and developers of games want to see their hobby/product compared favorably to paintings, music, written fiction, or poetry, but certain critics deny the comparison. This is also something I’ve come into contact with in the literary world. I’ve heard it said that genre fiction isn’t art, or that it’s some kind of “low” art. But what does that mean, and why would it be the case?
There is no authoritative definition of the term art. British romantics thought that art was inspired by a divine spark, something sublime that was meant to elevate the viewer beyond the realm of the ordinary, and enhance their perception of God’s creation.
I agree that there is something divine about art, and that it is (or should be) the whole end of human endeavors. More technically, I think that what makes a thing into art is the purpose behind its creation. If a thing was created as an expression of a person’s soul/personality/karmic oneness, then it is more than ordinary, more than mundane. It’s art. Likewise, regardless of the intentions of the creator, if a thing serves to enhance a viewer’s sense of his or her own inner being, then it is art. According to Wikipedia (yes, I’m citing Wikipedia. This ain’t no scholarly paper!) the purpose of art is for “expression of the imagination,” and “experiencing the mysterious.”
(Sorry for going all hippy flower-child there…)
There are two perspectives on a piece of art: the artist’s and the viewer’s. Art is an idea that exists in the minds of either of those parties. It may be subjective, but it’s real nonetheless.
So, Where Are We Going With This?
I’m justifying my personal pursuit of writing fiction as a life goal. Does this goal require justification? Probably not, but I thought it might be interesting to explore the issue. I sometimes wonder why so many people want to spend their lives writing make-believe stories. This, I think, is the answer: the artistic nature of fiction.
(Good) Fiction is written as an expression of the way in which the author views reality. It is a reflection of the universe filtered through the personality and character of a writer. It can be beautiful, picturesque, and sublime. It not only reflects the author’s spirit, but it allows the reader to explore new ideas and evaluate their own nature in contrast and comparison to those ideas. It takes us out of the realm of the ordinary and the mundane. It is spiritual. It is divine. It is art.
In my world, the three most important classes of people in any society are teachers, physicians, and artists. Teachers care for your mind, physicians care for your body, and artists care for your soul.
What could be nobler than saving the collective soul of humanity by churning out crime fiction, Sci-Fi, and slasher horror novels?