Sunday, May 31, 2015

On the Role and Responsibility of the Artists

Models, ideals, heroes are what create great individuals and great citizens. The role of the artist is to provide these models. The sculptures of ancient Athens provided the models for the citizens of Athens to emulate. The heroes of the tragedies and epics provides their models as well.

What models do our artists provide us? What images do our visual artists provide us? What models do our poets (which includes playwrights, novelists, and other storytellers) provide us? Are they ideals toward which we can aim? Or are they distortions? And what happens when you aim at a distortion? What will you hit if your aim is distorted?

Aristotle observed that virtue aims at the beautiful. Art provides models of the beautiful. This is why and how the arts provide us with models -- beautiful models -- at which we ought to aim. And we do. But how high are our models? How heroic? Or are they anti-heroes all too often? What happens when we aim at them?

Do the artists understand how important they are? It's doubtful. Too many artists go around without the least bit of understanding of the responsibility they have for what they are doing. They are providing everyone with models. What will happen to the arts when the artists understand how important they are, what is is that they do?
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