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Art is Art

I didn’t really pull myself together so well for my second presentation. It wasn’t as much of a mess as my first, but it still wasn’t where it should have been. I got called out for not doing what JGB had told me to do the last time: figure out exactly what I was arguing and defend it with good evidence and logic. Oh, and of course, do it all articulately. I think I was trying to tackle too much, and got carried away with things I wanted to talk about. This video showed Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, talking about so many different exciting things that I just wanted to touch on too many things. But the whole thing wasn’t a complete failure, because of what I got out of it. It further reminded me of things I need to work on. It challenged me to think. It caused me to form new outlooks and ideas about some of the things I had addressed and I’ve been able to make further connections.

One of the most important things we discussed that day was “bearing witness” and the level of its importance in the creation of art. It was so interesting to me how seriously some of us took bearing witness into account and how JGB strongly disagreed with all of us. The conviction in which he said it made me wonder. It made me think. Why? I’m sure he has his own very good reasons, and I’m more than sure he could explain himself very well.

It made me think about why I found it so important. And yes I had felt strongly about it, but suddenly I was like, why? Really, why!? I realized that I should take another look at it. And with that I began to change my mind, at least a bit.

The reasoning behind finding bearing witness important in the creation of art has to do with intentions. I find it so beautiful and inspiring when art–especially art which might cause great inspiration in others–is created by someone who’s experienced something devastating themselves. And yes, these types of works can be incredible, but there are flaws in this argument, which isn’t much of an argument at all.

I don’t think, any more, that bearing witness to something can create better art. I do however, still find intentions important. I feel as if that goes without saying though. If someone didn’t have a point to make then there wouldn’t be the art. Or maybe I’m wrong about that, because of all simple drawings and trash fiction and cliche hollywood movies. Those are all technically art, yes? But they don’t resonate with us, or do they? They’re there to amuse the most shallow and simple parts of our minds. If they resonate with us it’s because we are wishing for more–wishing for something that will encourage us to have intellectually stimulating conversations. Something that will tug at our hearts.

I’m getting off track here. I do think intentions are important for the creation of great art. And I actually do think the phrase “bearing witness” can be applied to it as well. Not in terms of being there, but bearing witness to what certain events have caused for humanity. Bearing witness to yours and others’ emotions. I think this is very important to creating great art. It must, of course, be coupled with great talent.

As a perceiver of art, though, I’m not sure how important, necessary, or helpful it is to look too far into intentions. Art is art. It’s meant to be looked at, read, or listened to. Either this perception will mean something to you, and maybe not. One should “take what resonates with him or her and leave the rest”. In The Submission, Claire made the mistake to begin to care a bit too much about whatever Mo’s intentions might have been. I love what Mo said in the end, when he’s asked what he would want to tell Claire: “Use your imagination”

Use your imagination.

It’s so simple and yet so important. He’s telling her that it shouldn’t matter. The Garden is the The Garden. Art is art. You can make it whatever you want it to be.  You can make it mean for you what you need it to. Because art is art. It is there for the taking.

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