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Artistic Ants

Originally posted on June, 27, 2008

If, what we are loosely calling contemporary art demands that the artist be free, can he arrive at some point to liberate himself? Today this painting animal is the most un-free of individuals. His only choice is to which of the latest zeitgeists he shall temporarily conform. Yes the artist painter is in most respects an animal like everyone else. But we must note that he (or she) is in contact with natural forces of a refined order. Society forgets this simple fact to their peril.

Most people I think agree that we are talking animals. Ask them what is the nature of this basic attribute and large differences of opinions emerge. Many, however, express that our intellectual capacity, the ability to reason is simply a refinement of the world habit. They also think that art is a bag of tricks that slick people manipulate. If they were to see reasoning as well as art as an inexplicable gift (from a God or otherwise) then art and reason would be seen to have value. It follows that if here you find no value then life itself has no value.

Art as well as life is, in my view, purely a game which we play well or poorly. And when we imply a progressive principle we invoke ethical standards. This often leads society to support tricksters and allow true artists to starve. The moralist is never universal enough in his thinking from my view. Questions about art are closely tied to the question of how man should live. And if the artist does not exercise a freedom to choose, the question of how man should live becomes as interesting or as uninteresting as how ants should live. At that point we would have a world inhabited with artistic ants.

Published in french as Fourmis artistes

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