An Argument against Art
What harm can a simple melody or a few notes have? Art is so powerful to a harmful extent, that we should enjoy it without reaching such extent; otherwise we can enjoy other safer and deeper pleasures that life is full of.
Absolute power is a misused power, and to give free rein to one single passion, however enjoyable, you always get negative results. Like any sensual obsession, the power of art eventually over-powers its lover, turning affection into slavery—addiction. Anyone can be a victim of art, music, or natural beauty, showing symptoms of addiction later when they reach an advanced state.
Addiction to arts, particularly music, is common among young people to a serious degree, that barely society, family, psychiatrists, or addicts themselves consider harmful or pathological.
Here is an attempt to shed more light on the obvious harms of art, and bring to light the less obvious. Accordingly, it's an argument against art's over-valued dubious benefits, and its mis-applications in art education and government funding of art programs in schools, music therapy, media obsession, idolization of artists, possessing/overvaluing art pieces, etc. It's not an argument against the pleasure of art which is a great solace to many, because it's unwise to discard a pleasure when you have no alternative.
1. A Limited Language
What is art, but a language through which we express our feelings! How much can it express, compared to our verbal language?—Not much. Art is superior to sex, food and other pleasures we share with animals, yet inferior to poetry, philosophy and science.
We use arts sometimes as a language when we voluntarily choose to be vague or indirect. But even then, words are more efficient: words can be equally obscure, provocative and confusing, when we want them to be, doing a better job than sounds and images.
Honestly, hadn't it been for the sensual pleasure we take in hearing some beautiful sounds and seeing some exciting images, we wouldn't have had any interest in art. The vagueness of what an artist says carries several meanings, none of which is specific. And when he tries to be precise, he ends up being childish: "This is what a flower looks like."; "This is what a bird sounds like."—just mimicking nature. A solo violin can be a crying child, a wounded animal, a weeping wind ... but it CANNOT be any of these only.
2. Poor Reasoning
Art stimulates imagination, but the fantasies it creates it cannot process or handle; rather, it passes them on to the frontal cortex—you cannot argue, analyze, or even observe the world through arts. Art initially supports memory, by association with senses; whereas logic organizes and retains endless data. A colorful book can hold some pages, but a silicon chip saves entire libraries.
Despite art's sophistication, complex mathematical rules, and brain areas it stimulates that we see flashing throughout the brain when one is listening to music, watching pictures, etc., art is yet more about teasing than teaching, dreaming than thinking, basically entertaining. Whatever the ideas or actions art provokes, they are not necessarily logical, for one to choose from what fits their life and gives it coherence and meaning.
You cannot focus or argue, in a place you find visually disturbing or with music intruding into your ears and mind, affecting its functions without your permission. You lose control over your thoughts, even if they were pleasing, and begin to think like addicts.
With inner or outer quietness replacing music as a background or stimulant to our thoughts, I'm sad to say, "music is just noise," in comparison. With total "fetal" darkness, like that we came from, our inner eye won't be hurt, using instead imagining skills more efficiently. Seeing an object "kills" the desire to imagine it.
We cannot choose the memory, fantasy or movement arts compel us to have; and once we have it, only with difficulty can we set ourselves free from it again. Arts can be equally beautiful and harmful, like many too-much-of-a-good-thing's and euphoric drugs are.
Whereas, in sense-free, purely intellectual pleasures, we can still freely choose our actions and control the direction of our thoughts. The brain can be more active in reading, writing and arguing, all of which are pleasures too, than in music or art. With such brain activities, we can transform our thoughts into actions and our actions into thoughts, at our command. We express our feelings, but we don't give them free rein. We choose, process, and refine our nature, before we follow nature.
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Michelangelo, Mozart and others were men of great intellect who had given their share to civilization. Yet, humanity has to move forward. They lived at an age with so many restrictions on free thinking, leaving less outlet for creativity except through arts, which had been even more mysterious then before the advances in neuroscience and biology explaining the chemistry and evolutionary function of senses. Had they lived today, they would have used their genius more effectively and directly to solve humanity's problems with.
Refining our senses by music, fine arts, travel, perfumes, gourmet food … makes us always attached to physical pleasures and reliant on our senses for perceiving the world, thus letting instinct interfere and our primitive brain flaw such perception. Senses are only the doors of the house, not the house itself. It's difficult to live in a house with constantly open doors. To focus, one must close their senses from inside first, without expecting someone outside to do so. One had better turn off their animal senses by their own will, not by wearing an earplug, blinder, mask, muzzle or muffler, that will make them look like animals anyway. "We are superior to animals," and animals aren't offended to hear this. They don't pay much attention to what we, humans, say, because to them we too are "just animals."