Monday, September 28, 2015

Art isn't meant for survival? Bite me: a dissent

This guy rescued a Caravaggio painting because
"art isn't meant for survival". 
Season 5 of The Walking Dead hit Netflix this weekend, & like a good consumer of media, I spent all of Sunday watching it (except for the part where Ten & I went to watch the eclipse).

In the 4th episode, "Slabtown" we learn Beth is alive* and was rescued by this, let's call it a police state, that basically enslaves people. It's a gross premise, meant to offer a contrast to the Rick Grimes-lead Musketeers.

That's not my criticism. It's a tv show, I basically ride tv shows like roller coasters because I enjoy them, not because they offer any kind of legitimate commentary on society pre- or post-zombie apocalypse. The bit I have a rant about is Dr. Goodbeard and his soliloquy on how art isn't meant for survival.

The hell it isn't.

This statement is routinely made by people who are not fighting for survival. Without art there's barely any reason to survive. Oh, you might say "sure there is" and offer a litany of activities & ideas that basically boil down to art. Of course, Medieval and Renaissance art are the most recognizable, but the least survival based but even the commissioned religious pieces of this era were made because they had to be lest the painter starve to death (having no warm bodies nearby to consume, naturally).

People who make art don't do it because they like it.

People who make art don't do it because you think it's pretty.

People who make art don't do it so that in 100 years it'll be on stationery and greeting cards.

People who make art do it because they have to in order to survive.

Maybe the real world isn't a dystopian hellscape full of walking corpses that threaten to make you one of them with a single bite, but have you ever considered why? Those deprived of art are basically walking corpses. Everyone consumes art. And while some people do it because it's fun & pretty, most people do it because art is vital to a healthy society. Art is where social commentary comes from. And while, sure, painting isn't going to be a skill necessary to survival in a post-apocalypse world**, everything you'll be fighting to regain will be very easily summed up in the act of creating, imitating, or remembering images, melodies, dances, stories, and art.

Art is what makes survival possible. Because without it, we become the walking dead.

*Don't give me lip about spoilers if you're more than an entire season behind.
**But dancing sure as shit will be.

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