A few things are common to every civilization throughout history. Art is one of them. Some people argue, “Art is anything you want it to be,” the anything-goes attitude, but when you ask yourself the question, “What is worthy or art?” such quips are soon out-dated. True art is an ongoing conversation between each of us and the creator. Everyone faces this challenge of how to live life, and although we are given so much freedom, we must have the observation skills, the sense of responsibility and the originality of an artist in order to live wisely. Being an artist is a lifestyle of integrating creativity into life as a spiritual practice which never stops. We are always giving and receiving, learning and hopefully unlearning.
Art is free, universal. It is a natural function of humans, like thinking, loving, dreaming. Art is a form of higher education and worship. Art is the natural way humans learn from the trials and tribulations of life. Art makes meaning, which takes effort and brings tremendous strength. Entertainment is the avoidance of doing so. Entertainment is an escape from reality, gleaning satisfaction from the senses, but it giving nothing back. It does not seek to understand, to evoke contemplation, to beautify, to challenge, uplift, transform. Whether something is art of entertainment depends on the intention with which something was made. Entertainment is made with the intention to make the consumer crave the next season, the next level, the product being sold. Art is made with the intention to witness, reflect the masterpiece of life and learn from the creative process itself.
Capitalism benefits from cutting people off from being creative. I say capitalism, meaning greed, the seed of which lives in each one of us. Through the media, greed distorts what appears desirable. The entertainment industry only exists to sell products. Without greed, entertainment would not exist. Culture would be a grassroots network of local gatherings where art, science and spirituality intersect, if history is any indication of how humans innately behave when they are not being coerced.
Our senses are wired intelligently to our psychology. In actual reality, our senses tell us what is truly happening. In virtual reality, most of our senses are ignored, while our eyes and ears get blasted. Capitalism prospers commissioning artists who understand aesthetics. Unfortunately, what becomes popular depends more on funding than on quality. Many gifted artists’ knowledge is directed into getting people hooked on entertainment. There are multiple reasons why the entertainment industry is so well-funded. One is providing a platform for publicity. Entertainment is the bait to attract an audience who will watch adds. Another reason entertainment exists is to cripple the conscience by numbing the senses, overstimulating the mind and abandoning the body. There is nobody to blame for this. It is human nature, weaknesses we all share. Just like everyone struggles with greed, we all struggle with “addictive personalities.” Culture implodes when we give in to creature comforts. The “everyone else is doing it” mentality in regards to how much time people spend on screens is a sign that artist are in the minority and consuming entertainment is by far the norm. Entertainment is the sign of a decadent civilization in its demise, when people forget that every one of us is an artist, a shaman, living the holy life, gifted with inspiration and unique forms of expression.
One could argue, “but there are so many good quality productions out there these days.” I argue, the most important element is lost in consuming pop-art, developing one’s own taste, getting to know the unique style of others and awaiting the muse, which arises spontaneously and cannot be reproduce. Compare what starving artists produce compared to big brand labels. The meaning is often the same, but those who fry the senses get rich, while the subtle rarely makes the news. Artists who haven’t sold out know that there is something better than even the most well-produced pop art: hanging out with other artists. Social art is jamming, creating, conversing, observing nature together. Trading art for entertainment is being robbed of organic interconnection with place and the people around us, the price of media addiction.
There can be many intentions behind creative acts. Some creative acts are black magic, intended to sell, to bribe, to deceive. Art exists solely for love of meaning, beauty, truth, for itself, to convey the spark that inspired the subject about the object. Art can be ceremony. It can be a way of building tolerance for intense inner feelings, or communicating things that are ineffable in words because they are too paradoxical and multivalent. Most importantly art intends to see things as they are and to make consciously evident how humans have the power to go against the way things are. Art is not merely a product, it is a community, a setting, a time and place, a gathering, a ritual, a forum for silent social interaction around a not just the masterpiece but what inspired it and how everyone feels about it.
Exchanging participation in the creative process for consuming entertainment damages the reward system in our nerves. Quick fixes make it harder to appreciate small pleasures, when consumed in excess. Entertainment is sound and light junk-food. It perverts our sense of aesthetics. Organic aesthetics convey to the senses a kind of morality that is far more complex than the judgments of the mind. The mind is lazy. It relies on past associations, while the senses remain present. When the senses are overindulged, our receptors spoiled by manufactured peak satisfaction mask the ordinary essences whispering from all around. Life is full of remarkable moments. What could be more amazing than ordinary objects and how they are revealed to us at certain times in response to certain questions or moods? A spoiled mind looses its ability to distinguish between the wholesome and the artificial, the random stuff and the synchronicity. Entertainment is designed to replace our desire for simplicity with an aesthetic that costs money. As I have mentioned in many posts, perception depends on the substances, the context, the process. These aspects are overlooked when the mind is hijacked by using perception as a means to experience dopamine, adrenaline and other chemicals produced int the brain by witnessing themes of lust, violence, and fear which predominate modern entertainment. Entertainment exploits polarities and cultivates black and white thinking. Art promotes patience, glorifies the ordinary, encourages rather than escapes, comforts the pain of being alive by sharing in a direct heartfelt way with others.
What we all want is to love and to be lovable. This is already the case. Not much money to be made there. Advertisements trick the mind into believing we are not good enough. Bath the most chronic media abuser in silence and the beauty of nature. Picture people at the beach, at the park or camping. They are happy! One of my greatest teachers once said to me, “The internet is just a sad substitute for the akashic record,” aka clairvoyance. Sheltered from entertainment, people remember that the best things in life are free. What they desire is already done. We are lovable. You can’t buy that, nor copy that nor make it up. Art ensues, for what more is there to do? Art has historically always been humanity’s thanks and praise.
These people know. They, and other creative people, can teach the rest of humanity how to reconnect.