Art for Fart’s Sake
Art for art’s sake — the usual English rendering of l’art pour l’art, a French slogan from the early 19th century — is a phrase that expresses the philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only ‘true’ art, is divorced from any didactic, moral, political, or utilitarian function
We can combine didactic, moral and political into the same category of political.
As a pragmatist, art can’t exist without a utilitarian function but it can still exist if it functions as art for its own sake. The utilitarian aspect is a persistent dimension that makes art relevant for political functions.
Abstract thought is dangerous for the established functions because abstract thoughts can re-imagine better functions to reestablish.
The only constant in the universe is the established functions that create the ultimate canvas that we all ponder about, the universe we live in.
Within this ultimate canvas there’s the weird knot of consciousness that somehow presents ourselves painted within the canvas but also as individual artists that contribute to the painting.
The essence of a our consciousness is a function within various other functions. Some superseding us in terms of controlling our place in the canvas and others aiding us as creative artists. Functions are ultimately utilitarian and all functions seem to have consequences.
The function of art is cultivated for its ability to communicate. Even if we create art for our own self, the creative process functions as a way to communicate; even if its the self communicating to the self. Our own creation speak to our ability. Through practice, our ability improves and so do our creations.
Along the evolution of art, it became more abstract. Art at its foundation was always political but not always tolerated. The question for art, since its essence is sincerely expressing our questions as the evolve alongside us as species, has become how can it tolerate itself.
No doubt somehow correlated with the rise of climate change, our question of creation. Our expression through art. Has been geared towards expressing an appeal towards greater self awareness as art becomes solved by political means and becomes less abstract and more dogmatic.
The irony of art makes it a threat to the powers that have established meaning. It’s like the powers are pushing art to get it to drop the irony and fight. If art drops the irony, it becomes more political, it becomes subservient within the established power struggles. If art keeps its irony for its own sake, it toils with the dangers of the powers but it keeps alive the function of art that, once de-politicized, encourages the expression of the individual without fear of political/social repercussion.
The fear of the powers is that art, or the process of art, will communicate new ideas to the individuals that challenge their own individual role in society. A self-growth of sort.
Apart from that, however, we can ask if the risk of interpretative art is worth a political campaign against the possibility of art. What does this political campaign do to us in turn? What heights do we have to reach to prevent the expression of art so that it doesn’t reach a level where it can be used against us?
We can avoid this question through faith since we can’t know the consequences of art. We can appreciate the creation of art even if it’s always a threat to our politically mapped self. Biologically, we’re mapped by organic tissue complicated by chemistry and physics but politically we’re mapped by abstract social labels.
The social labels are arrived at by a mixture of biological and universal processes, but their political relevance is created by the same functions responsible for art. The only difference is that, in the realm of art, the significance of creation is potentially irrelevant to political and/or social structures. What does it mean to create something of potentially no consequence?
To those in power, it’s a Pascal wager type threat.
To those without power, the consequences of art vary. Some don’t see much value in these thoughts. Others don’t like the potential political consequence even if they’re not in power because they like their own political position in society. Others see it as means to subvert the powers. Others see it as therapeutic. Others see it as an expression that supersedes our understanding or expectations.
Art can exist outside any other consequence other then the consequence of itself if it can be tolerated by a person willing to be receptive to it. But this person opens themselves up to dangers, political consequences and social tension. So does a society open to the idea of art or of an art potentially for its own sake.
What is power in art? What happens to political powers in art?
Does political power sacrifice itself in art for a greater Will?