(86) Life is Art, Maybe
Well, I think we can reasonably conclude that there is a certain amount of alcohol that enhances my writing, and that that amount is neither zero nor a fleet of vodka drenched barges. [*will continue to be horrified by the utter non finish of last night’s post. will also be leaving it as is, bc own that drunken ramble, dammit.]
A few friends were discussing the concept of ‘life is art’ and vice versa. It’s an idea I find I instinctually agree with; yes, fashion is art! yes, laughter is art! yes, nature is art! yes, each of our idiosyncrasies is art! There’s a raw, immediate, yes in me every time the idea is proposed. It took years for me to dress the way I wanted to dress. It took longer for me to not apologize for my opinions. My belly laugh is loud and unabashed and utterly on its own; it took years for me to realize that it was both mine and different, and to be able to value it for its quirky deliberation. I look at the way each of my dogs falls asleep, and I think the act is perfect in its simplicity and necessity, perfect with its adorable and trust riddled ease. If I think of art as an expression that represents more than a single act or idea on its own, then yes, absolutely, life is art, and vice versa.
The problem with that gut response is art is so much more than mere expression. It is more than someone’s way of doing something. It is more than the natural order of things. Art is a transformative process, a skill, a journey that should leave everything it touches slightly askew in a way that puts all future paths on a different, however minutely, trajectory. There is the very popular joke about modern art that says, ‘my three year old draws better than that!’ And while this joke is often hysterical and true and has a point, the missed aspect in its humor is that art isn’t only about the final product. Performance art is a literal zero without the work and sweat and vision that goes into every minute of the show. There’s a reason writers edit and have numerous rough drafts. Any discovery or creation is about the process just as much as it is about the results. You can’t have the latter without the former. And when I simplify art to daily bits that I love and need, I ignore the multitude of steps that make something truly art.
Yesterday, I caught myself wondering what the opposite of art is. If I think of art in its results alone (paintings, books, performances), I can’t think of its opposite at all. …no…books? An empty stage? No, though, because the absence of art is not the same as its opposite. So, no. But if I think of art in its barest, most crucial, state, if I think of art as a process, a journey, then the opposite of art is inertia. Which loops back to the life is art/art is life statement. Large scale life is constantly moving. Inertia for creatures tends to be fleeting, unless something is horribly awry. Even if the movement is destructive or atrophying, it is still movement. And that means life is art, and art is life. It’s also a softly faceted way of seeing people; the movement behind their every detail, the change and difference in each moment. Maybe art is the lens, and life is the study.