Artists believe that by using what they know about aesthetics, beauty and truth they can help themselves and others with the problems of living. They strive with their art to cure "depression" as an example, with much the same intention that outdoors-types promote hiking, dog-lovers encourage the ownership of dogs and medical doctors prescribe "mood" drugs. The artistic and the medical approach often seem to be at war; it must be as vexing for the medical community when one of their number recommends painting or singing to combat depression as it may be for artists when another one of their own turns to antidepressants.
An imagination captured by art is immune to much of that ordinary discouragement and purposelessness that everyone feels from time to time. Witness the latest Star Wars film which, for months in advance created mammoth anticipation, hope and interest. Millions flock to enjoy works of art which make them feel part of something, help them imagine different, more purposeful and effective living, or just help them reject, as with laughter, the evil and unpleasantness of the world. With no dangerous side effects.
Is it better to create these feelings with a chemical, as the psychiatrist insists? Setting aside the fact that such drugs create, especially in children, violence and unhealthiness, when not provoking an unacceptably high number of actual suicides, (the Littleton, Colorado murders were carried out by juveniles who were on psychiatric drugs to "manage their anger") it would hardly seem worth it, when so much enjoyment, peace and diversion can be created without them. In fact, we've been doing it as a race for thousands of years.
That our culture could survive without the songs, stories and images of our artists, is doubtful, but even if it could, who would want to live in it? If one must choose between a modern renaissance and a chemically-induced cultural "solution" to unhappiness, give me the arts any day, and give the pills back to the doctors who so blandly prescribe them to our kids.
Tom Cruise and Mission: Impossible III (Spring 2006)
RECYCLING CRITICS (Fall 2002)
RENAISSANCE FOLKS (Spring 2002)
MESKI-WHAT WHAT? (Winter 2002)
A STAR IS BORN (Fall 2001)
PAINTING BY NUMBER (Summer 2001)
IMPORTANT HOAX ALERT! (Spring 2001)
THIS MUCH WE DO KNOW... (Winter 2001)
GENERALLY UNRELIABLE (Fall 2000)
SHOULD YOU SAY "YES"? (Summer 2000)
NOTES FROM "WHOVILLE" (Spring 2000)
BATTLEFIELD EARTH IS HERE! (Winter 2000)
NEW YORKERS, LOVERS OF MANKIND (Fall 1999)
THE ART CURE (Summer 1999)
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