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An Argument

The Arts
by Steven David Horwich


First, let’s start by defining “the Arts”. By “Art”, we are talking about creative
endeavor and expression, intended to generate an effect on other than the artist.
This creativity must, therefore, assume a form identifiable and understandable to
the “audience”. An audience is rarely moved to anything other than confusion and
hostility by a work they don’t understand.

Therefore, we must assume that “art”, to work, has a form, a means of

communicating which audiences have come to understand and accept. Let’s
consider three variations of “Art” in our discussion which have passed the test of
time with audiences. For our purposes, theatre, cinematic art, dance, and music will
represent the “performing arts”. Painting, sculpture and architecture will represent
the “graphic arts”. And poetry and literature, the “written arts”.

An argument could easily be made that philosophy and history, when written, are
art forms as well, or at least a part of the written arts. I’ve heard many a scientist
speak of their work as “art”. Teachers will tell you that instilling youngsters with
interest and knowledge is an art, and far be it from me to debate them. A plumber
will tell you that there’s an artistic element to his work, and would no doubt be
correct. But for the sake of simplicity in discussion, we’ll use the Performing,
Graphic and Written arts above as our definition. These, and their variations such
as “opera”, have traditionally been accepted as art forms by humanity.

So let me begin by asking an essential question. Given that today, we seem to be

surrounded by “the Arts”, that we can’t walk down a street or step into a house or
building anywhere and not be exposed to architecture, painting, music, television…if
this is so, then why do the Arts require an argument defining their importance? Isn’t
the importance of our seemingly all-pervasive art inescapably self -proclaimed?

To answer that question, we must look at our present social environment. In the
early twenty-first century, we find that the creation, enjoyment and understanding
of the arts, in general, are being increasingly marginalized.

In the area of education, less and less funding and attention is being paid to the Arts,
an unavoidable fact particularly observable in public schools in the United States.
This lack of available exposure and education for our youngest, our potential artists,
creates a cycle. Fewer trained young artists equals less overall production in the
Arts, equals less effective art work equals less interest from the public in the arts,
equals less funding to train new artists, and the cycle continues to deteriorate.
Additionally, this sets up a situation where only the “financial elite” can afford their
young to be trained in the arts, as the public schools de-emphasize such experience.
This means our new artists will be of the “elite” class, and increasingly out of touch
with the general population, and their tastes and interests.

There is another alarming phenomenon observable in the Arts, today. The arts
today are no longer simply created as expression, for enjoyment and edification.
Instead, they are very often “used”, they are “employed”. The Arts are deployed
most visibly as a carrier wave for the propaganda of every branch of our society,
including government and industry. The Arts are used to sell cars, drugs, politics,
and even the need for selling and promotion.

In fact, generally, successful works of popular art today are, in the form of Music,
Dance, TV and Cinema, widely “marketed”…despite the quality or impact created
by each individual work. This on-going intensive marketing has the effect of
turning new works of art into “disposable” fads.

“Newer and better” divas and hit movies and TV series are rammed down the
public’s throat every day, utilizing various arts (in commercials and ads) to
promote these new works of art, and displacing very recently “established” works at
an insanely rapid pace. This is done in a seemingly rabid attempt to promote the
consuming of art itself as a commodity. One of the best exemplars of this are the
widely published “Best Seller” lists in music, books, movies, TV, you name it. These
lists can be found in weekly newspapers. They change each week. What sold
“number one” last week is “number four” the second week, and dropped off the list
on the third week. This represents the very essence of a “disposable art”

The idea that the arts need to be “marketed” is not new. The idea that art can and
should be “sellable” and as such, a commodity, is as old as Western culture. Art has
long been a commercial endeavor, dating back in Western Culture at least to Greek
troubadours, reciting history and myth in song for their supper, as did Homer.

The arts have often existed as a money-making proposition. Shakespeare wrote and
directed plays for a living. Da Vinci was always well-paid, whether he was painting,
or designing interesting weapons. Bach was paid for his compositions by the
church. (He had over twenty children to feed.) Moliere was paid by the theatre-
going public of France, and by his King. Even a well-publicized communist like
Brecht devoutly collected his royalties. We all have to eat.

The difference between the venerated, “marketed” art of the masters, and the art
being furiously hocked today on every television and street corner, can be found in
the durability of the individual works being promoted and sold.
Homer is not a fad. The Iliad and The Odyssey are likely to survive every civilization
in business today, as they have already survived Greece and Rome. (Witness the
most expensive film made to this date, Troy, an adaptation of sorts of The Iliad.)
Shakespeare is not a fad. The Human Race will doubtless carry Hamlet to the stars.
Bach will be someday heard throughout the Universe, as he is now played by
orchestras in China, a possibility once unthinkable.

So, here is a quality that helps define “great art”. It survives. Great works of art
live on and on, to move and delight and agitate, generation after generation. There
is something (or several somethings) unique to a great work of art which endure.

The “something” which allows certain works to survive while others fade into
obscurity is all-important to our discussion. Suffice to say that the masters of each
form understood what it was their fellow human beings needed and wanted from
their art…and that those needs have not changed a bit in thousands of years.
Hence, works of art which satisfy these human needs survive. Those works that do
not satisfy these essential human requirement, do not survive. We’ll attempt to
define the qualities which assist a work’s immortality, a little later.

Please note that governments and industries come and go. Political ideologies
proclaimed to be immortal come and go. Great religions ebb and flow, shrink, and
even vanish. But many great works of art remain. In fact, their longevity can be
considered one aspect of their greatness. And there are many, many of these
survivors, thousands upon thousands of examples of art works that have survived
the centuries to be loved and admired.

Clearly these works are fulfilling something more essential to the human race than
government and industry, and possibly even religion. As a species, we tend to
preserve what we need and want, and eliminate the superfluous or unwanted. This
process is a basic trait of survival. Keep what is needed, eliminate waste products.
No species can long survive in an environment redolent with its own wastes. What is
not needed takes up room, becomes toxic, and so must be eliminated. All living
organisms operate this way, or they cease to operate at all. Thus far, our species has
survived. We have survived often enough by eliminating governments, industries,
even religions. But we love our great works of art, century after century.

Clearly, these works are deemed “necessary”, and are fulfilling a human need which
no other human institution is filling. If this were not so, then Art would have long
ago been eliminated as unnecessary, a nuisance, as a waste of needed resources.

We keep what is perceived to be needed and wanted, and eliminate the rest. An idea
or institution can only survive in so far as it is perceived to be a plus. The Russians
adopted Communism in 1917, by fierce and deadly revolution, because they were
hungry and desperate and perceived that Communism could solve their woes.
When Soviet Communism failed to solve their national problems, it vanished into
the history books. This government and idea that had threatened the entire world
lasted far less than a century. It simply was not needed and wanted. It did not
fulfill a human need. It was a waste by-product of desperation, and it was toxic.

Even a religion survives solely on the basis of its ability to represent the needs of the
currently living. There are few “Zoroastrians” anymore. Confucius has a small
following. It’s hard to come by a Taoist, today. Even Judaism, the first
“monotheistic” faith, is numerically and rapidly failing. In order to survive, a
Religion (or Government) must be, or seem to be, somewhat fluid and capable of
responding to the needs of the day. At the same time, that Religion (or
Government) must become “venerable”, “safe”, “long-lived”, and in short,
institutionalized. Most of the Human Race would prefer to place their well being,
both National and Spiritual, into tried and true hands…so long as those hands don’t
grow palsied with age. This, of course, establishes a paradox few Religions or
Governments can long survive.

But a great work of art is almost a static. Art can consist of a marble statue, a
painting, a great edifice, a written story or play or symphony. Art can generate
from an idea, an emotion, or a moment, but in each case, it is given form,
significance and endurance.

Even a choreographed dance is stable, once choreographed and annotated or

recorded. (That is the only way a work of dance can survive. It must be handed
down generation by generation by oral, recorded, or annotated form.) A work of
great art is very similar to a static, and accordingly, does not itself change. It
remains the same, outwardly. As such, it fulfills our racial need for continuity. At
the same time, a work of art is certainly open to interpretation by new generations,
while remaining outwardly essential and unchanged. A work of art accordingly
accomplishes what few religions, and even fewer governments, ever accomplish. It
allows, even invites, participation from those who have survived the artist who
created it.

A great work of art satisfies. It satisfies our need for continuity with our forefathers
and our great grandchildren, all of whom will be exposed to that work, wonder at it,
and interpret it for their own day in the sun. So, it also satisfies our own individual
need to create, if nothing other than a current and vital opinion.

Of course, popular works of art fall out of favor all the time, and those which are to
survive rise to the top. This is a process endured by works of art in every century of
human existence. Because certain peripheral needs and desires of mankind change
with the passing of time, and works of art which fulfilled old and antiquated needs,
tend to vanish. We don’t listen to much of Salieri’s compositions anymore, though
he was at least as popular as Mozart in his day, and considerably better established
in the political environment of his day.

Most of the work created in the past century will probably not survive the test of
durability. Will anyone sing Like a Virgin fifty, or a hundred years from now? Or
have you already forgotten that one? Have you ever actually sung Like a Virgin?
Listened to it lately? I didn’t think so. (Not if you can help it.) But every
Christmas, you can still hear Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah, sung in thousands of
churches and concert halls throughout the globe.

Even some of the most admired artwork of the twentieth century is rapidly growing
passé. Most works of theatrical Absurdism written in the 50’s and 60’s, once
considered landmarks, are rarely if ever performed or read outside the academic
circle. Who performs No Exit? Even Waiting for Godot seems feverish and tired,
only a few odd decades after its debut.

West Side Story, a pinnacle in the musical theatre, feels musically and dramatically
creaky today; it’s dialogue dated and even laughable. But the play it was adapted
from, Romeo and Juliet, although its language grows increasingly difficult for a
population increasingly illiterate, remains as fresh as a rose, and is performed
countless times yearly. Something about this work still speaks to an audience,
whether it’s a student in a classroom, or an audience on the West End.

That “something” which allows a work to persist, I would like to define as Human
Common Denominators, communicated with a degree of expertise.

What is a Human Common Denominator? It is an experience or emotion common to

most human beings. The act of falling in love, of having children, of fighting for
one’s place in the Universe, are experiences common to nearly all human beings.
And the artist, in order to communicate something vital and interesting to his fellow
mortals, must of necessity be an expert in this area. There are many skills an artist
must have; a sense of form and rhythm, of importances and absurdities, a rare skill
to communicate his intentions. And most importantly, a clear sense of the common
experience he shares with mankind.

You can think of many more Human Common Denominators. Look around. What
are people in your time and part of the world commonly experiencing? The terror of
war, perhaps? There are hundreds of great paintings, books, and plays touching on
what war meant to others, throughout history. It’s hard to look at Picasso’s great
painting Guernica, and not see the horrors of war, and to react, just as we do
watching the first 15 minutes of Spielberg’s masterful Saving Private Ryan. These
two disparate works, created many decades apart, both resurrect the horror of war
in our breasts. But then, so does Homer’s 2,500 year-old Iliad and so does the Hindi
sacred book The Mahabharata, a document thousands of years older than that.

We find we are still touched by the horrors of a ruler who abuses the trust of his
peers, as is the case with Shakespeare’s Richard III or Macbeth, or Adolph Hitler, for
that matter.
We find we are moved by Juliet’s undeniable love of Romeo. We are horrified when,
under Sophocles hand, Oedipus Rex has engaged sexually with his mother, though
the tale is, again, 2,500 years old.

There is another critical Human Common Denominator, one which helps to define
the Human need for art. We each wish to “make our mark”…as individuals, as
members of groups trying to impress upon the world some point of view, and as
members of the Human Race. We each wish to have something vital represent us
after we’ve left this veil of tears.

We parent our children with love and care, and assume they will stand in our stead
when we are gone. We start schools, churches, companies, to leave something
lasting in our wake. We participate in religions and nations, offering our blood,
sweat, and donations knowing that we are helping create something which will
outlast us in the world.

And we create works of art to speak to our descendents about our lives and beliefs,
and to remind them that we also passed this way. This drive may or may not be the
actual genesis of art, but it is one of the best explanations for the persistence of, and
importance of Art.

Great writing, great painting, great art of any kind; reaches inexorably across the
centuries. It reminds us that we are each a part of a millennia-long parade of
humanity. It reminds us that our fathers, and great grandfathers, and ancestors
ancient and forgotten experienced the same things we are today experiencing. We
are not alone. Our uncounted ancestors shared our fear of death, suffered through
the same hard times, and experienced the same desire to be loved, to raise children,
to build something which would be remembered. At those times when our own lives
grow darkest, great works of art remind us that other eras and generations suffered
dark times and yet, we somehow survive as a species to sit in a quiet theatre or
library or museum, and marvel at our own creativity and durability.

So, what is art? Art consists of works created by individuals, which survive and
communicate to us our “one-ness” with the humanity the preceded each of us, and
which will follow us. It is mankind’s best attempt to create something which will
outlive our fragile lives and civilizations and institutions. It is a series of accepted
and agreed-upon forms which communicate across the centuries. It is the oldest
effort of mankind, beyond the securing of food and shelter and our earliest, long
forgotten attempts to understand our place in the universe.

In short, Art is our striving for immortality, expressed.

In many cases, our art is our immortality, accomplished.


In the West, we can trace with some confidence the genesis of most of our art forms.
We attribute theatre to the Greeks of 2,500 years ago, with Aeschylus, Sophocles,
Euripides, Aristophanes, and Menander. We attribute the peak and perfection of
theatre to Shakespeare, 400 years ago, and to Moliere as the master of comedy.

But theatre (and dance) doubtless actually began with primitive man,
communicating the glories of the hunt, or the fears of the night. Hence these art
forms predate history (and predate nearly everything else mankind values today),
dating back at least fifteen thousand years.

Music must have pre-dated the Greeks, of course, finding its birth with primitive
man beating on tightened animal skins, or imitating the birds he heard singing
above. In the West, music rose to perfection with Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and
dozens of other masters.

An argument could be made for the popular song as a new branch of music, as
exemplified by (for example) Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter,
and Paul McCartney. However, popular song is not new. Shakespeare wrote many
“hit” songs in his day. It is believed that Homers histories were communicated in
song for centuries, generation to generation, before finally being written down as
“text”. We are almost certain now that the Greeks sang their great theatrical
tragedies. Yes, Oedipus the King was actually a musical, complete with song and
dance, costumes and “sets”. And no, Andrew Lloyd Webber was not the inventor of
the “Pop Opera”. That badge of honor probably goes to Sophocles. I can promise
you, had Bach not composed his St Matthew’s Passion 300 years ago; there would be
no Jesus Christ, Superstar.

Architecture speaks undeniably for itself. If we are looking for a symbol of Greece,
perhaps our most venerated culture in the West, we turn to the Parthenon. For
Rome, it’s the Coliseum. Egypt left us her mighty pyramids. All of these, and many
others, remind us of mankind’s great effort and occasional success in combining
technology and necessity, in an artistic manner. Europe is positively awash in
medieval churches which continue to inspire and awe. The Middle East is a flood of
grand and ancient mosques and temples, as we pile stone and mortar in an attempt
to touch the sky, and please our perception of God. So are China and India. In fact,
any civilization of note has left behind their buildings as a mark of their
technological and artistic prowess. We will no doubt do the same as we leave the

The written word goes back (literally) as far as “recorded history”, since written
words and symbols are what recorded history consists of. Poetry certainly goes
back to the Greeks, even the Sumerians. Early novels exist plentifully in Rome.
Each art form has evolved in order to “stay with the times”, through the centuries.
In fact, art is cumulative. The new artist builds on the example of the ancient.

Theatre hit a high point in Greece, plays being presented in massive “festivals”, in
packed amphitheatres, productions paid for by prosperous citizens. (Not unlike
professional theatre today.) So the Greek tragedy is grand in scope, mighty in
emotion. Theatre hit a low point in Rome, being written mostly to be read, or in
rare cases, performed by wandering companies on the streets, as with the works of
the divine comic playwright, Plautus. Things got worse for theatre after Rome fell,
as the then dominant Catholic Church frowned upon theatre in Europe. (The
Church even managed to nearly kill poetry, music and the authoring of novels,
except for its own liturgies, even while claiming to be the bastion where works of art
were preserved through the Dark Age. We will never know how many works they
destroyed, or prevented from ever taking birth.) It is with the theatre’s rebirth in
the Renaissance, best exemplified by Shakespeare, that the theatre once again found
its footing.

You’ll note that for nearly 1,000 years, theatre barely survived in the West. Religion
and Government conspired to kill it, with the aid of poverty and illiteracy. But
something as vital to the human species as theatre cannot be eliminated. People
won’t let it go. We are still looking for our immortality. Art always finds a way.
Human expression always finds a way.

During the dark ages, painting, architecture, and music also came under the
auspicious of the Church, in the West, as well as by Islam in the Middle East and
much of Asia. These forms were heavily limited in expression by religious stricture,
and artists were often persecuted, even excommunicated or killed, in the West. It
was only as civilization began to rise beyond the limits of the Church and rampant
illiteracy, that the arts again found the means for their true expression.

The best of Art, as can be seen for example in Shakespeare, Moliere, Bach, Mozart,
French Impressionism, some American Cinema and popular music, is almost always
an expression of freedom, and a social affluence which permits time to the individual
to dream and create. This freedom would particularly include liberty from
governmental or religious fundamentalism and their strictures. (The best of Art
which survives periods of heavy repression from Government or Religion is usually
an expression of desired freedom on the part of the artist, as with Brecht and Weill,
authoring their anti-Nazi musicals such as The Threepenny Opera, before having to
flee Germany for their lives. The “shark” does have pretty teeth, dear, but not as
sharp as the writer’s wits.

Occasionally, great art has been created as a tribute to a Religion, belief system, or
government as well. Even within the strict confines of Catholic Church doctrine,
great works of art were generated, especially in music, architecture, painting and
sculpture. No one can deny the power of the works of Michelangelo, Vivaldi or
Bach, as cases in point. (There are thousands of such examples.) But these artists
transcended religious and social stricture, and insisted upon an artistic expression of
the complete Universe around them…a Universe consisting of far more than the
limitations of Church dogma.

Michelangelo’s David, alongside his God and Adam atop the Sistine Chapel, is a
profound expression of human perfection. They are inspired, human forms. The
great monk Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” hasn’t much to do with a worship of anything
other than nature. But we have all experienced these seasons throughout the
centuries. We understand hundreds of years later, that winter is winter, and that as
fellow human beings, winter sounds in our minds and hearts as it did in Vivaldi’s.
And so long as there is “winter”, our children’s children will understand Vivaldi,
and be moved, no matter the passage of time.

Since we’re already headed in that direction, let’s look at the relative durability of
the arts, comparing it to the durability of other efforts and forms considered vital to
the Human Race. For this treatise deals with relative importances, in an effort to
restore to its appropriate height our civilization’s support of both art, and the artist.

Let us look at the durability of our institutions.

Throughout history, in every civilization, there have been essentially five significant
“institutions”, or areas of intense activity, which define each civilization and the
quality of life therein. These five institutions are Government, Religion, Industry,
Technology, and the Arts. Each of these areas of activity is an expression of the
human need for immortality. Each is an attempt to make a mark, to survive
beyond our natural life span, to create and leave something which will last.

And each of these five institutions has a different overall life expectancy. In other
words, each of these five activities has demonstrated a relative degree of success and
failure, in representing our efforts to create or express our immortality.

Of the five significant institutions, Government, Industry, Religion, Technology and

the Arts, it can easily be seen that the most vulnerable are Government and


Every government and every civilization ever fashioned was an attempt to create an
entity both stable and durable. Each was an effort to demonstrate our desired

Governments are comprised of people, and of ideas made tangible in the area of
human interaction. Human interaction, of necessity, will change as needs and
situations change.
In 1830, the creation of more confining corsets may have been the solution to the
Human need for modesty, but it is no longer the appropriate the answer in 2003.
Human interactions change. And therein lays the central problem regarding a
government’s survivability.

Nearly every government came into initial existence to solve a set of then current
problems. As newer and different difficulties arise, the flexibility of government is
challenged. If a government changes too slowly, it is conceived as no longer able to
cope with current and escalating difficulties. If a government changes too quickly, it
is seen as unstable, and lacking any real agenda or leadership quality.

Governments have it tough. We all know that governments…even the best…pass.

Rome lasted the longest in the West, but even Rome changed from a Republic to a
Dictatorship part way through its life. Governments, like men, pass. Even great
Caesar and his Rome are no longer with us.

A government protects its citizens from threat, both without and within. A
government, in fact, survives only as long as it can protect its citizens, through
military action (without), and through law and its enforcement (within). When a
government fails to protect its population militarily, the nation is over-run from
without, as it will be sensed to be an easy target by stronger nations. When a
government does not apply law fairly and evenly, it is destroyed from within, by
rebellion. A civilization attempts to create stability, and to improve the quality and
length of the life of its members. But no civilization can succeed at this task forever.

The sad reality is that, throughout a historical minefield of governmental

philosophies and regimes, government in general has been a monumental human
failure. Today, nearly every day and all over the world, countries splinter into
smaller countries, governments are attacked and overthrown, and citizens are bereft
of protective rights.

Government in general is a bust, and governments in particular seem to have short

life spans, the longest (Rome) lasting under a thousand years. And remember, Rome
only thrived so long as she could destroy and digest the governments of other

When a government passes, it can leave an interesting record (inscribed by

historians, and by that civilization’s remains in architecture, and other arts), and it
can even effect to a certain extent the philosophy of government in surviving
nations. But that particular government, once gone, is generally really gone, never
to be heard from again in a living sense.

Government is extremely vulnerable. Its track record stinks.

National stability equates to opportunity, where Industry is concerned. Businesses

cannot survive in an environment hostile to human life, or human commerce. War,
banditry, prohibitive tariffs and taxes by opposing nations, rapidly changing
administrations, revolution, can all contribute to the death of industry in a given

If the market place itself is obliterated, as in a war, then industry must fail. War
often eliminates markets. One can’t trade with the enemy legally, under normal
circumstances of war. (People do and have, though.) War often also eliminates the
market, domestically. A lot of customers can die in a war. Even a government, a
civilization, can die as a result of war.

Industry has generally a very short life span. In the U.S., the most affluent nation in
all human history, one-half of all new businesses close their doors within the first
two years of operation. And when a business is closed, there’s generally not much
left standing as a testimony to its past glories.

Industry, like Government, is also comprised of people, but it produces products

which others need. Some cynics would say that this quality immediately makes
Industry superior to Government. However, a good Government does generate
useful products, such as stability, safety, and identity. Some cynics would then say
that there have been few good governments. I would find that point harder to

Until the advent of international business concerns, companies rarely outlived the
civilization they partook of. And given the complexity of international law and
commerce, and the relationships between unstable and often adversarial
governments, can international corporations really be deemed guaranteed a long

Additionally, the sudden onset of poverty or of natural disaster has always

drastically affected the life of Industry. The American Depression was largely
caused by a lengthy drought. Thousands of farms closed.

Industry can be killed by something as small as a lack of rain, or by a change in the

wind, as many a ship’s Captain would attest. It can be murdered by a change in
governmental regime, as demonstrated by any nation which institutionalizes its
businesses under the control of government. (Any Communist nation will serve as
an example. There are very few “private” industries in most Communist nations.)

Industry requires just the right environment to flourish. It is fluid, and like
Government and Religion, must remain responsive to public need, to survive. This
jeopardizes an industries sense of identity. And no entity entering into social
concourse can long survive without a firm sense of its own identity. Such a glaring
weakness leaves one open to ready attack.

Industry is very vulnerable.


Religion, too, depends upon a certain and fortuitous set of social circumstances in
order to thrive. There are sociological factors which encourage the growth and
survival of religion, in general. And when these factors falter, Religion suffers as an

It has been a fact since the dawn of recorded history that religions almost always are
born of adversity. The oppressed Hebrew Tribe founded Judaism, crying out to
their God of the Wilderness to protect them from the enemies that surrounded them.
Christianity was born out of the Godlessness of Rome, and the sense of the
individual having no recourse versus the state. Buddha felt stultified by the endless
and seemingly (to him) pointless practices of Hinduism. There are nearly always
social pressures that create sufficient impetus for a response…a new religion to
answer new questions and concerns. (Again, the originating factors for Religion are
similar to Government and Industry.)

Poverty, warfare, weakness and strife tend to send people looking for a better world,
and paradoxically favor overall the growth of religion. Europeans during the dark
ages spent their little resources on huge cathedrals, and starved to death. Today, in
South America, while many starve and have an excess of children, the Catholic
Church prohibits birth control, and their coffers swell mightily.

Accordingly, there are factors that occur in a successful civilization that can hinder
and even decimate religion. One of these is affluence.

It would seem perhaps to the casual observer that Religion should benefit by a
stable civilization, where it would appear easier to inculcate churches and beliefs.
Stability leads to leisure, which one might believe would allow for the study of
philosophy and religion.

However, leisure implies ease of life, which tends to harm religion in general.
Wealth and ease can lead one to satisfaction…which would disincline one from
seeking other worlds with less tangible rewards. General well-being in the
population lessens the “felt” need for spiritual solace. Fat and quiet and peace do
not force one to look elsewhere for answers. On the other hand, if an individual is
ambitious, wealth would generally lead him to the pursuit of that from which he is
already receiving satisfaction…more wealth. Satisfaction and material desire are
not the fertilizer most religion requires to grow their crop.

Affluence also almost invariably leads to general education. Mass education can
and has often done damage to religion, leading many potential believers instead to
the sciences and philosophy, which are often viewed as antithetical to Religion.
Leisure does allow time for study. However, it also allows time for observation, and
“worse” for religion, travel.

In observing and traveling, one may be exposed to other ways of life, other religions,
faiths that other people believe in as firmly as the folks back home believe in theirs.
Other religions are experienced whose tenants might very well contradict the faith
of one’s own fathers. The Crusades brought home to Europe far more than
mathematics and telescopes. The European interest in Eastern philosophy that
blossomed in the 1800s into new occult religious movements, largely started as a
result of the Crusades, hundreds of years earlier.

Leisure and success do not prepare a citizen for the dark rigors of sacrifice most
religions call for in their acolytes. For the Roman citizen, at the height of Rome’s
power, religion was at most a mildly interesting topic of discussion. And the lions
were hungry every day. After the fall of Rome, life became grim and difficult
indeed for most of Europe…and the Church grew into a mighty and dominant force.
It remained the principle force in that continent until nations started to establish
themselves, with strong and well-educated rulers and merchant classes. Then, the
church began to diminish in Europe.

For Religion, leisure and ease generally have not proven to be a very fruitful
environment. And yet, leisure and ease sit at the very core of most of civilization’s
goals. The safety and well-being of the population is the objective of any sane (or
seemingly sane) society. But Religion seems to require toil and trouble in which to
percolate and come into its might.

This could imply that Religion and Civilization itself are antithetical. But this is not
entirely the case. While it is true that many will turn to religious belief in times of
instability, one can’t easily build a church where instability and chaos reign.

Hence, a synergy of a very tenuous sort has existed between Religion and

Religion calls upon Government to keep the ground from shaking while they build
their churches, and to free them from the burdens of taxation and social
persecution. Government has long sought after the stamp of approval from
Religion, so that it could look its population in the eye and, while issuing directives
claim them to be divinely inspired. Kings received their crowns from the Church’s
hands, and were considered God’s regents on Earth for hundreds of years,
throughout much of the world. The Emperors of China and Japan were considered
Gods into the twentieth century.

A synergy, a mutual need exists between Religion and Government. And this
mutual need leaves both of these social essentials vulnerable.
Government and Religion have very often gone for each others jugular. History is
full of examples. In fact, this is the anatomy of much of history. Nations often have
gone to war to oppose a religion. Europe and Christianity went to war with the
Middle East and Islam. (Some might say that war lingers today, in the form of
Israel and the U.S. and their on-going problems with certain Arab states.) Germany
did a very unfortunate and thorough job on European Jewry. In Ireland,
Protestants and Catholics have been killing each other for over 800 years.

Of course, these conflicts, and the resulting hard times and deaths, drove people into
the churches and temples and mosques in record numbers. Adversity is Religions
best friend.

When Religion and Government work well together, they can result in a civilization
protected by Government, and instilled with morality and will by Religion. But this
combination of energies working successfully is rare. And historically, when it does
work, the pairing is, at best, very tentative.

Religion in general exceeds in survivability most governments, because religious

beliefs pass easily across national borders. Should a government fail and chaos
ensue; a religion can often pick up stakes, and move across the river. Or they can
stay where they are, and reap the benefits of fear and uncertainty. It is often the
degree of existing social chaos that determines the course and geography of a

Religion tends toward survival. Religion is the human institution, aimed at

immortality, which takes immortality as its principle subject. Because it is both idea
and ritual based, Religion tends to overcome national barriers (the triumph of the
idea), as well as barriers of time passage (the triumph of ritual).

Ideas tend to make it across the border, no matter the trenches. Once inculcated in
a given generation, rituals can survive, handed down, for thousands of years.
Accordingly, religions based in ritual and ideology compatible with the social
environment have lengthy life-spans.

But remember, the oldest religion on Earth is Hinduism, about 6,000 years of age.
There are many variations of Hindu worship, which in part explains its durability.
Nature loves variation as the very basis of survival.

Will Judaism, Christianity, Islam, even the elder Buddhism (2,500 years old) survive
as long as the Hindu faith? Will any of the newer belief systems survive?

Religion is generally looked for as an answer to immediate need. Man has always
questioned his place in the Universe. Religion, like philosophy, is an attempt to
answer that question. Religion, unlike philosophy, historically appeals to ones
emotions, to a sense of faith in that which can not be observed. Philosophy appeals
to the intellect, and ones ability to observe.
In an increasingly technological world, where observation of scientific phenomenon
is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of life, will Religion make some sort of a timely
adjustment? As individual lives are technologically prolonged, as needs are
technologically filled, as the Universe in general shrinks before our enquiring eyes,
where will Religion find its reason to exist?

Time will tell. But we do know, as stated above, that there have been religions
whose time came and went. No matter how sincere the belief, and one may be
certain that people practicing these religions of the dusty past had faith, these
religions have gone the way of Paganism, another victim of encroaching civilization.


Technology can only develop where education and literacy are possible. Technology
is, therefore, utterly vulnerable to illiteracy, and the repression of learning that has
been imposed by so many religions and governments throughout history.

Education and literacy cannot develop in the general population where there’s no
government to fund and support the requisite institutions of learning. During the
Middle Ages, when the vast population of Europe was educationally suppressed,
only the Church and the wealthy maintained any level of literacy. You’ll notice
there wasn’t much in the way of invention, during this grim period in the West.

Most technology, for those grim 1,000 years, was developed in Islamic Nations in the
Middle East. These nations educated their populace (at least the male element of the
populace), and created stable Caliphates, where learning and experimentation could
thrive. Men were educated, and knew their place in the religious and political
cosmos. They were sufficiently secure to have the leisure to think and create. Much
of what we think of as advanced mathematics, accordingly, developed in Islamic
nations. Ocular science…the telescope, for example, developed in Islamic nations.
Stated baldly, if not for the inquiring and enlightened nature of Islam during the
dark ages, there is no saying how much further “back” we as a species would be
today, from where we are.

But Technology can be readily imported. This is a significant survival point in favor
of Technology.

The Crusades brought mathematics and the telescope into Europe, along with a
hundred other important technological innovations, where hungry intellects clung
for dear life to these advanced notions. Education is, fortunately, contagious.
Imported Islamic innovations led Europeans back into the studies of navigation,
cosmology, etc. (It should be noted that many Islamic innovations were offshoots of
Greek and Roman works, which were readily available to the educated Islamic.)
The Golden Age of Greek science was reborn in Europe only because technology
(ideas) are imported and inculcated with relative ease and minor expense. An idea
weighs nothing. It cannot be taken from you at the border. Once passed around the
fire, everyone present owns a piece of it. Any idea, religious, political, philosophical
or artistic, qualifies as Pandora’s Box. Once opened, its spread would seem nearly
inevitable, limited only by its unique value, or lack thereof, to people.

Or is this entirely true? Much of the science of the Greeks and Romans was
certainly “misplaced” as Rome fell. What was salvaged in the West was squirreled
away in Monasteries, there to be largely forgotten. Much of the hard-won
innovation of the previous 500 years was left, unused and fallow, for the following
1,000 years.

As it was with European Art, so it went in the sciences. Science suffered a silent,
comatose sleep during the European Dark Ages. In lieu of the “observable science”
of medicine, agriculture, etc., Catholicism experienced extreme growth. The
Catholic Church offered the answer of faith, an answer publicized as superior to
observation, and offered as the only answer left available to an uneducated

Religion and Technology are not entirely antithetical. But they are nearly so.
(Galileo proclaiming that the world was not the center of the Universe, or even of
our solar system, confronted by the Catholic Church proclaiming Galileo a heretic,
is perhaps the defining symbol of this on-going difference of approach to the
problem of the mysteries of life. The battle is waged to this day.)

It might be pointed out that there are today, as there have always been, scientists
who believe fervently in a supreme being (or beings) as the Prime Mover behind all
observable scientific phenomenon.

It might be pointed out as well that many religions have accepted that our small
planet may not in fact be the center of life in the Universe, and have somewhat
adapted their current ideology to the explosion of scientific information now
available and easily observed by the common man, and indeed, the reasonably well-
educated grammar school student.

It could be argued that these adjustments and compromises between Religion and
Technology are inevitable, and even Hegalistic in their progression of thesis/counter
thesis/synthesis. Perhaps some new force will present itself someday, an inevitable
result of synthesis, born of the warring of Technology and Religion, which will
provide new answers to age-old questions. Perhaps such an entity exists today,
undergoing the birth-pangs of social mistrust that every new movement and idea
must suffer through, to acquire adulthood.
Generally though, where Religion prospers today and in our past, there technology
suffers, and vice versa. This fact leaves both these critical energies at risk to each
other, and vulnerable.

Religion runs the risk of being ridiculed for incredulity, and the loss of converts to
the readily observable phenomenon of the Universe. Technology runs the risk of
“heresy”, and the loss of converts to the great, unseen force or forces claimed as
Religion’s reason for existence, particularly in an increasingly violent and seemingly
inexplicable world. The twentieth century, by far the most technological hundred
years in all of human history to date, has seemingly exacerbated the differences
between these two polarities of Religion and Technology.

It might be argued by some that this rule of mutual exclusivity is breaking down
somewhat in the twentieth century, as can be witnessed in America, particularly as it
passes through religiously fundamentalist periods like the 1950s. It is true that the
Space Program progressed (slowly) during this time, and that industrial
technologies improved somewhat. (One can depend upon enlightened self-interest
on the part of industry, when civilization is reasonably stable, to provide some
increases in technology.)

However, technological advances occurred much more rapidly in the 1960s and
beyond, after that stringent, Christian Fundamentalist American period eased its
lock on the minds of the nation. We walked on the moon at the moment in
American history when Religion was, in general, most in doubt, and while America
was demonstrating its most liberal inclinations. We walked on the moon during the
height of anti-war demonstrations, free love, and drug experimentation. America
was clearly interested in what it could see and experience first hand, rather than
through the vicarious prism of faith.

However, the obvious must be stated. A little technology goes a long way.

Technology has often proven to be its own worst enemy. Nations thrive which
develop improved modes of warfare, only to be decimated at the next turn of the
wheel when another nation comes up with the next, improved and more destructive
device. He who lives by the sword, etc.

Technology can only progress in so far as humanity has the wisdom to utilize it,
without blowing itself to bits. Thus, not only is technology inherently limited as to
life span, but nations who rely heavily on it become the target of other, fearful
nations. Other nations can be threatened by not only bombs, but increased and
improved means of production with which they cannot compete.

A bomb…and a better mousetrap…can be a double-edged sword. They both invite

competitive response. Thus we had a prolonged and world-threatening “cold war”
between the “free and democratic” nations of the West, and the Soviet Union. Each
force armed and escalated in an attempt to out-technologically maneuver the other.
Thus it is that Technology can carry with it the seeds of a civilization’s demise.

What’s more, technology can only be improved upon in a prosperous civilization

where individuals have the leisure and financial support to think and dream and
experiment. Technology shares this trait, generally, with the Arts.

Technological advances have almost always had a cumulative quality, particularly in

an open society. This trait is, in fact, one of the guarantees of survival for an open
society. Discoveries by one source lead to discoveries by another source lead to
discoveries and application by yet another source. The wheel leads to the cart leads
to the chariot leads to the wagon and on and on. Flight, the Jet, and indeed, flight
to the moon, are all the result of a nearly infinite number of technological
discoveries and applications accumulated over thousands of years, and will
themselves eventually lead to further creations in technology.

Technology, more than any of the other five principle aspects of civilization, operates
in an observably Hegalistic manner. Discoveries and counter discoveries lead to
newer and better discoveries. Technology demands an open and free line of
communication between its practitioners as the very life blood of its progress. Open
and easy communication is only really possible in times of relative peace and
prosperity. So we see another way Technology is reliant on Government, and is

When borders are closed and open communication is impossible, when religious
fundamentalists become the order of the day, when industry falters and funds and
leisure time for experimentation become scarce…Technology must come to a slow,
and a near stop. It can be seen that our highly vaunted reach for the stars,
spectacularly successful over the past 100 years, is highly vulnerable to these three
other human drives, Government, Religion, and even Industry. It is the year 2,005.
It has been decades since we last walked on the moon.

Technology is the shining truth of the twentieth century, just as Religion was the
shining truth during the dark ages, and Government was Rome’s truth. The
technocrat might be well advised, in worshiping his new and shiny god, to look at
human history.


As stated above, there are five essential areas of activity where human beings
attempt to make their mark. Our search for immortality brings us, finally, to the
purpose of this (by now seemingly endless) diatribe.

Government, Religion, Industry, Technology and Art all exist at the behest of men.
We have decided over the epoch of our racial experience that we require these forms
in our on-going effort to comprehend and master our universe. Of these five, Art
would appear at first glance to be the least useful, the most fragile.

This would be at first glance, only. Look again.

It is true that good government provides safety and well-being, and even leisure.
Religion provides solace, and a sense of our place in the grand scheme of things.
Industry provides productivity, product and usefulness. Technology can offer us an
improved life style, and a sense that we are gradually catching up to and
understanding our Universe. These qualities are easy to see manifest, and are
among the reasons we allow these four forms and efforts to persist. They have an
undeniable effect on our survival.

What does Art immediately offer us?

First, it must be stated that Art is, essentially, a leisure activity. One cannot make
Art until the hunt is ended for the day, and the meat is roasting over the fire. One
cannot worry about finishing that painting or poem until the bills are paid. But this
is a hidden strength in the survivability of Art.

The fact that an individual creates a work of Art implies that they have risen above
the common toil of life. They have somehow won the game of survival for a long
enough period of time that they have bought themselves the requisite energy and
hours to think, dream, and create. And even without consciously understanding
this, most of us sense and greatly admire this fact.

A great artist, regardless of his struggles in life, finds a way to bring something
remarkable into the world. This implies a victory over the day-to-day adversity of

The average man, unaware of or unable to confront the artistic impulse burning
within him, stares at great art and wonders “how”. He’s looking at his daily grind
for his daily bread, at his own universe where the children must be fed and the labor
must be completed. He knows that, somehow, the artist looked past that particular
grind, somehow, into a bigger and broader and more interesting Universe, one with
more interesting shapes and colors and sounds and emotions than his own work-a-
day universe. And the average man knows that the artist has managed to translate
his vision of unseen potentials into something understandable and tangible to his
fellow men, opening the door to experiences new and unique.

To Vivaldi, spring and winter sing. And so, for the rest of us, it is possible to
experience the seasons as song.

To Shakespeare, men speak in rhymes of great beauty. Men experience life of a

grand and intimate scale simultaneously. To Shakespeare, every man is greater than
the sum of his parts. And so, since Shakespeare, it is presumed that a man is capable
of depths and heights unimagined. Shakespeare, a superior man, not only said we
are more than flesh and blood, but he proved it by the very fact of his transcendent
writings. And we accept that we are more than we seem, because the great poet
allows us to experience it as so, in his works.

As does a true religious experience, art opens up our own sense of individual
potential. The Universe becomes available, and our potential grows to unseen limits,
in experiencing great art.

The same is true of any great portrait artist, from Rembrandt to Vermeer to
Gainsborough. They see more than the eye, the wrinkles and mundane shape of the
face before them. Because they see more, we see more. And because of this fact, we
know that the artist…and ourselves as well, are more than what can be seen.

The artist finds a way to translate his superior vision to canvas or music or words or
movement. To Monet, every object is gifted with inner life. And again, he has found
the way to let us see the miracle of hidden life, as he saw it. He verifies for us our
own vision, our own inclinations. We gaze at a flower and wonder at the miracle of
it, at the unseen life there. Monet tells us we are right.

No other institution has the potential to acknowledge the rightness of mankind, as

does Art. Government, by its existence, implies that men are incapable of
governing themselves. Industry makes a cog of a man, in a vast machine, and tells
him that if he does not use XXX deodorant, then he’s less than worthless.
Technology and Religion dwarf the individual, and make him appear small upon the
vast canvas of both the unknown, and the observable Universe. Both Religion and
Technology tell the common man that he cannot reach a condition of grace or
understanding without his Priests and Scientists and “experts” to intercede for him.

But Art allows the average man to see some of what the artist has seen, of a universe
containing greater possibilities. And what’s more, the average man realizes that if it
was possible for that artist to peek into a bigger and better world, it might be
possible for him to do the same. It is this mechanism, in part, that makes Art so
utterly valuable to mankind. Art serves as a validation of our potential. We can
each be more than we see. Art proves it.

Without this mechanism, the average man would murder our artists, one and all.
Because the artist represents a superior grade of humanity…but he is small in
number. (Indeed, history is full of examples of uneducated civilians and societies
persecuting artists who were “ahead of their time”.) Common Humanity has a
habit of killing off the implied threat of its best and brightest. We send our young
off to die in battle, and allow our essentially useless old men to sign the articles of
war. We are not all that good as a species at protecting our own potential evolution,
or survival.
But the artist’s appeal is in the first place, personal. He speaks of personal
possibilities, beyond physical survival. He speaks to the possibility mentioned at the
start of this essay, of personal immortality.

As the option of creativity remains tantalizingly available to each and every man to
the very end of our days, we cherish it as a species.

The creative act remains the highest potential act a human being can perform.

The very fact that Art exists is a triumph for humanity over the mundane necessities
of racial survival.

Accordingly, a government wishing to survive and prosper would see to it that its
individuals, its population, were well educated and endowed with the freedom and
leisure to create.

Such a nation, avidly supporting the effort of its artists, would certainly shine
amidst the dark, night skies of human history, as do ancient Greece, and
Elizabethan England. Such a nation says to the world; “Look at our great artists!
See the number of artists and the profound and wondrous nature of their work.
Ours is a nation that has transcended the common bonds of life. We do more then
just “survive”, here. We create.”

Such nations are the envy of the world.

The audience responds to the act of Artistic creativity itself as something

remarkable, something outside of common life. This is because the act of Artistic
creativity exists outside of common life. While it is certainly true that every
individual commits acts of creativity in a life…from the birth of children to the
creation of the perfect hamburger…the Artistic act is something above and beyond.
It is accomplished by beings who communicate with the world around them with
more clarity and depth than the average man. It speaks of possibilities simply not
available to everyday mortals. Here, we are approaching the immortality we sought
at the start of this long-winded thesis.

Art’s second appeal is social. In dealing with Human Common Denominators, the
artist is grounding his vision of a better life in sensibilities the audience, as a whole,
are capable of identifying. We all know spring. Only Vivaldi takes our identifiable
frame of reference and expands upon it, increasing and making new our
understanding of the phenomenon of spring. We know what the spring breeze feels
like on our cheeks, and we have each experienced the emotion inherent in watching
a storm blow in. Vivaldi knows this as well, but he also knows that we know, and the
master uses this knowledge as the foundation for his communication.

In other words, the artists starting point is the average man’s end result.
The great artist then pushes further into new realms. He insists we go along with
him for the ride; that we all look with more profound intent, and that we all
understand what we find at the depths and heights of artistic insight. We see life as
if it were new. We learn and understand new elements of truth. In this way, the
artist raises the bar of our racial potential.

Art serves, therefore, as a direct barometer of our racial evolution. The quality of
our Art tells us how far we’ve come, how deeply we’ve looked, how great our
potential is, today.

We have all known foolish, old men who, if not as grandly foolish as Lear or
Quixote, serve as models for our comprehension of these larger-than-life characters.
Our fathers and grandfathers are very real within our experience. Only
Shakespeare and Cervantes force us to look at the consequences of the existence of
these sorts of men. And from our increasingly profound view of such behavior, we
grow. Perhaps we long not to be Lear, or pray for Quixote’s vision of the universe,
Regardless of the specific response, the important thing is that we’ve seen things we
would not have otherwise seen, understood them, and responded in a manner that
makes us more than we were.

The great authors place Lear and Quixote into a complicated Universe, one that
ultimately does not acknowledge their presence. (This would be something like the
Universe we live in, would it not?) And then the artist insists that if the Universe is
cold and insensate, that human beings are not. We are aware, aware of our own
existence, aware that we breathe and think and feel and, finally, act because we wish
to act.

It is not enough that Shakespeare and Cervantes present us two interesting, old
men. They force us to see much, much more. And in seeing these particular old
men in a new and expansive manner, we start to look at the other men who surround
us, and wonder what miracles each of them may hide. We learn. The species
improves its understanding of itself, and its relationship to the universe.

We have all seen water lilies, and know what they essentially are. But Monet knows
and sees better. He sees these quiet, still objects as alive and filled with dichotomy,
afloat calmly atop an environment where traditionally, life does not belong, locked
between water and air. His lilies shimmer, and demand that we look again, and
reconsider. And so, we learn and improve.

The social element in Art also has to do with agreements. We can all agree, from
within our experience, that a chair is a chair and a man is a man. We know what
certain things are, because we deal with them (or we are them). So, we can agree as
a group, those of us in the theatre that night, or those of us who’ve had the good
sense to read the novel, or study the painting. We can agree on the essentials, on
what is plainly being communicated, if not the more subtle nature of the
Agreement, by definition, is certainly a social phenomenon. It takes more than one
to agree to something. And agreement of this sort puts us in touch with our
commonality with mankind. We are looking again at the things we all know, as
human beings. Art, in this way, makes us a part of something larger than our
individual selves. This leads us to Art’s next quality.

Art’s third appeal is racial, and this takes us back to the beginning of this essay. We
are back to a discussion of the immortal. We have seen that Government, Industry
and Technology are very vulnerable to short life spans. In our racial effort to
survive and achieve some sort of immortality, these three areas of endeavor seem
doomed to failure. They certainly each have value, but it is temporal,
interdependent and limited.

Religion and Art are the only two endeavors which contain within them a quality of
timelessness. Religions often promise immortality, though frequently an
immortality associated with a divine and unseen benefactor (or malefactor,
depending on your behavior).

Art promises that immortality is actually a function of humanity, and that the
immortal can be created and experienced by men, and in tangible terms.

Religion assumes as its domain the realm of the unseen, as does Art. But Religion
rarely makes the unseen manifest in the universe that we all share. The closest
Religion comes to this is generally in its icons, such as a cross or a painting, in its
grand and holy books and rituals, or in the magnificence of a Church or mosque or
Temple. And such icons, of course, actually belong in the province of Art. (Is not
any ritual really theatre, by definition? Isn’t any book, even the Bible, a form of
written communication, and hence, arguably art?)

Religion, offering something unseen and intangible, demands an act of faith on the
part of the participant. We are not debating here the relative value of faith. We are
simply pointing out the fact that Art requires no faith from the participant. Art
requires observation, and response on the part of the audience.

Art requires only a series of decisions on the part of the artist. Art is nearly binary
in its inner working. A work of Art is a series of choices made. The artist
determines, black or white, red or blue, square of circular, big or small, loud or soft,
this note or that note, this word or that word?

Art is comprised of the unseen made tangible, through a series of decisions made by
the artist, and then communicated to his audience. And the end result is something
that others can see or hear or experience in a real sense. The product is something
tangible, lasting and subtle, expressing some sensed but previously unseen reality,
which can now be observed and responded to by others.
Art, by its very nature, implies the arrogance of man.

Art states by its very existence that the artist has assumed the right to make creative
decisions. In this way, it has been argued, through such acts of creativity, the artists
plays “God”. The act of creating a work of Art, and the birth of a child, are
certainly two of the most obvious examples of man’s potential to behave in what we
have perceived to be a “God-like” manner.

We have already discussed the survivability of art. The fact that there are works of
art which predate essentially all other known human activity short of hunting and
eating and sleeping, surely speaks volumes. What was the first thing mankind did
for itself, once fed? It made Art. It painted its face, and drew itself in caves, and
whistled back to the birds.

What is the one element of the five which we know for a fact has followed the species
throughout its existence? Certainly Government, Industry, and Technology fail this
test. We cannot know, beyond a superstitious fear of the unknown, what Prehistoric
Man believed in, if anything. We suspect he worshipped the forces of nature, and
early concepts of great powers beyond sight, and it may be so that he did. But we
know ancient man made Art.

Finally, what is it of value that mankind has to offer to a chaotic Universe, to mark
our place in the page of life? Government? There is no government so long-lived
that it will be remembered or cherished very far into the future. Industry?
Industries come and go faster than governments, generally, and do less for their
constituents. And technology can always be bested by the next technology, and each
carries destruction in their wake as often as not.

Religion? Assuming for the sake of discussion that there may be a Divine Being,
what would He (She or It) be expecting of Humanity? Why gift each of us with the
potential to create, if not to use it?

King David wrote enduring poetry to his Lord, in tribute. We read his poetry in the
Book of Psalms (Songs), in the Old Testament. Bach authored divine cantatas. If
acts of creativity so delighted the Lord that He Herself created the Heavens, the
Earth and each of us; would not our own acts of creativity delight Her? Would we
not be acting as creatures created “in His/Her own image”?

And if this is so, should not Religions rally around the flag of Art as that action
amongst all actions most likely to please our Maker? Shouldn’t the Artist be looked
upon as the equal to our most profound Priests, communing with the unseen force
or forces to improve upon life in ways common mortals only dream?

Enough said.

In the end, the most pertinent argument for Art is a simple one.
Art gives us a depth of meaning and potential which nothing else in the history of
human life has provided.

Art gives the spring a sound that the wind and rain and budding flowers in the field
only imply. Art gave Monet’s lilies a meaning special amongst all flowers, as did
Van Gogh’s colorful explosion of flowers. As did Shakespeare’s “a rose by any other
name…” Art transcends Botany in our ability to understand and appreciate
nature. Art defines and redefines nature, both observed and inner nature, for the
only sentient species we know of.

Art is our species best opportunity for immortality. This is observable

phenomenon, and this fact alone in a sane civilization should disarm the bombs and
divert the funding to your local dance troop. Our Artists are like our astronauts,
delving into the unseen and unknown to secure some expanded sense of
understanding, racial value and immortality.

Could we fund the Arts, then, as we fund the Space Program? Art is surely at least
as valuable.

The ultimate reason for Mankind to explore the stars (and a right and noble reason
it is) is the race’s expansion. To place men on other worlds is the dream, so that
whatever terrors the universe holds in store for our small Earth, somewhere men
will continue to paint and sing and dance. This is, by definition, racial immortality.
It is, I think, an argument to heavily support Space Exploration…to fund it, in fact,
in a manner second only to the arts.

Elizabeth the Queen died some 400 years ago. But her bard’s work lives
indestructibly on. Louis the XIV has passed as well, but Moliere still makes us
laugh and think, and shake our heads at our own foibles. Pericles has passed, Rome
has fallen, Russia is diminished, and even the United States will someday fail. No
government lasts forever.

But the Parthenon and Coliseum stand, though the civilizations which gave them
birth are diminished. The great writers Dostoyevsky and Chekhov remain to haunt
us and make us gape at human folly, though Russia is a poverty-stricken shadow of
its fallen greatness. Bach forces us to wonder anew at the heights of the human soul,
though the sincerity and efficacy of his Church often twists in the wind of Human
opinion. Shakespeare confirms today that we are natively of the greatest heights,
though the Queen who smiled upon him has passed into ash.

Would we not be well served as a civilization to make certain of our posterity?

Should we not treasure our Artists and their efforts? Should we not encourage,
indeed, demand the making of a new generation of artists, as a survival point?
Should we not fund our arts as generously as we fund Technological
experimentation, churches and new government buildings?
The value of Art is infinite. Our species’ ability to touch upon infinity depends
upon our understanding of this truth.

Steven David Horwich