WHY HAS ART ALWAYS BEEN RELISHED, BUT NEVER PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD? Part 2
In imitative arts, artists use their skills and talent to imitate existing things artistically. This group of arts consists of paintings, sculptures, the art of storytelling (novels, films, and acting.) For instance, when artists make a sculpture of a horse or paint a flower, these things already exist, and they are just artistically imitating and replicating them. Novels and films are imitations of events that occur from people interacting in real life. In acting, actors imitate the character that writers create. In all cases, imitation is the goal, and thus the tile, “imitative arts.” All these arts associate with humans’ Utilitarian Intellect.
The Utilitarian Intellect by nature always strives for excellence in everything it engages. In these arts, it is excellence in imitation and replication that pleases the audiences. The quest for excellence in the Utilitarian Intellect is one of the forces that propel human progress. In that, everything people create, they try to make them as perfect as they can. People even try to perfect the things that others have created by making them better, faster, more beautiful, cheaper, and more durable. For example, one person invented a crude version of the light bulb; now, others have perfected it in so many different ways that we have over 5500 different sorts of light bulbs for various applications. This innate human quest for perfection is the birthplace of humans’ desire to create imitative arts. Where people enjoy good music and dancing, but they admire imitative arts if they most closely resemble reality. The more believable they are, the more we admire them.
From this perspective, imitative arts are not to educate, but to reflect, as Shakespeare’s stories, teach nothing. They only beautifully reflect. He does not try to show how things should be, but rather how things are; “reflect, and not educate.” The same goes for other masterpiece imitative arts such as Michael Angelo’s David, De Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or Raphael’s School of Athens, etc.
Many people believe that we like paintings and sculptures for their beauty, which is only partially true. An ample number of art pieces exist that are devoid of beauty that enjoys universal popularity. For example, one finds different versions of the paintings of the freshly severed head of John the Baptist from which blood still drips, a sculpture of a colossal serpent devouring a man, or a man being killed. They are magnificent a imitative arts, for they look so real, but most likely, no one would decorate his home or offices with such arts. Thus, in imitative arts, people admire them for the excellence in imitation, but not necessarily a feeling of pleasure, joy, and satisfaction that we get from music. Paraphrasing De Vinci, once he said, we see pictures, but we do not feel them, but we feel the music, although we do not see it. Below are these examples.
THE IMITATIVE ARTS OF STORYTELLING
I raise the question of why people so enjoy the art of storytelling. After all, stories are nothing but writers’ figments of imagination, totally devoid of any element of truth. Then, why these stories have so captivated superbly intelligent humans worldwide and forever?
To answer this question intelligibly, as an imitative art, because stories imitate real life, we need to decipher what makes people cling to real life with such gusto. Even under the most challenging situations when life becomes sheer pain and suffering without any glimpse of hope for change, the vast majority of people still want to continue living. Correctly answering the question of why people love stories might help artists find the key to how they could plot their stories as an imitation of real-life to make their stories and films as captivating as they can be.
Invisible forces chain people to this world. Hence humans so love life and living, and dread death and dying. We love life, for it satisfies our varying instincts and provides us with various joy, pleasure and satisfaction of different sorts that make life exceptionally delicious, and we cherish it. For example, you might passionately love your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and friends. Likewise, you might relish your good fortune, position, or as a creative person, you love your talent, the science you master, a research or a project you are working on enthusiastically. You might be exceedingly curious about the outcome of specific developments or researches other people are conducting that you eagerly want to see the result and so on. You might relish arts, athletic activities, or sports events, traveling, interacting with others, or any combination thereof, which makes life vibrant and enticing. Adversely, someone might have violated your rights, and you intensely want to avenge them. Endless such passions, glories, hopes, despair, love, hate, wants, needs and desires, and curiosity makes people exceeding interested in life. Each of these positive and negative inclinations stems from a particular instinct. Hence indeed, life is instinct; instinct, life. Understanding these human inclinations, and knowing that storytelling is an imitative art, enables us to formulate plots in stories to provoke these emotions through intriguing stories.
Stories must arouse one or more of the same instincts in audiences to make them adhere to the story, just as through instincts people cling to real life. All aroused instincts in real life demands satisfaction for it to subside. For example, when a story skillfully provokes feelings of love, hate, revenge, fear, tragedy, drama, and so on, they also stimulate the pertinent instinct, and the audiences want to know how the story unfolds to satisfy these instincts. The audiences identify with the star stock in such a dilemma, and the instinct of curiosity particularly seeking satisfaction follows the story to the end, and the mission is accomplished. Provoking instincts by the right plots are what I call “Injecting energy into the story.” such energy gradually dissipates, and one must replenish it at different intervals to provoke the same or other instincts to keep the audiences engaged. The stories plotted this way, and most closely resemble intriguing real-life believable events, prove to be more captivating than those that are devoid of them. These are the features that make stories great. And it is perfection in imitation that does the job. Of course, to fully grasp this notion, one needs to acquire an in-depth understanding of what instincts are and how they work that this study provides.
I carefully watched Hamlet, Romeo Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Taming of Shrew, Macbeth, and Julius Seizer from Shakespeare, Les Miserable from Victor Hugo a few times very carefully to validate my theories on the art of storytelling. This included some good novels from my previous readings. That was a very good day for me.
In all cases, the writers had implemented these formulas perfectly well. This validated my theory, and that was very pleasing. Also, I watched a few not so popular films, and they were devoid of it. In such films, they resorted to car chasing, people shooting at each other, and huge explosive scenes, devoid of any and all intrigues. They do not capture the audience because most people instinctively cannot envision chasing, being chased, or shooting at someone or being shot. However, everyone can instinctively relate to being in love, being in states of tragedy, love, hate, fear, courage, hope, despair, guilt, betrayal, sacrifices they make for others, or longing for revenge. Every human is a bundle of emotions, and these feelings become tangible to them that chasing cars cannot. A brief demonstration of one of these stories brings this to focus.
In Hamlet, for instance, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to Hamlet and tells him how his uncle killed him and urges him to take his revenge. This claim charges the story with an enormous surge of energy from the start. Hamlet and all audiences not being sure if the ghost should be trusted; they wonder what Hamlet is going to do, and what would they do if they were Hamlet? Wanting to know if the gouts is to be trusted, and what Hamlet is going to do intensely provokes the instinct of curiosity. Being excited, now this instinct demands to be satisfied, and that hooks the audiences. However, this energy gradually dissipates and must be replenished.
After Hamlet survives an assassination attempt by the same uncle, he arranges a show in the court to play the scene of a king being murdered by his brother in the same way as the ghost had told Hamlet. He wanted to observe his uncle’s reaction. This anticipation provokes the instinct of curiosity again in the audience and reenergizes the story as they want to determine the uncle’s guilt or innocence. When his guilt becomes obvious, now they anticipate what Hamlet will do, and that injects more energy into the story. Any good story, among other things, will have this element instilled in it. Implementing this formula would not make new Shakespeare, but grasping it would help writers to write better stories. It would help producers to see if the stories they are considering are sufficiently energized in the right ways and right intervals to keep the audiences engaged for the stories to become successful.
THE ART OF ACTING
In acting, as another brand of imitative art, the aim is authentically imitating a role or a character. One of the biggest challenges for actors has to be getting an accurate reading of the demeanor of the character for an authentic imitation. For this, in real stories, actors try to live with the person for a while to see how he or she thinks and acts to imitate them more accurately. While this helps a bit, but knowing the complexity of the human mind, not only actors, but even psychologists do not fully understand their patients.
Because the same 19 mental forces govern all humans, they create what I call Macro Psychology. That is because each of these forces create the same sort of inclinations and that drives all humans in the same direction and creates a common trend. However, because the intensity of each of them varies from one person to another that makes people different from one another, I call that Micro Psychology. Understanding macro psychology creates a context and vastly simplifies understanding people’s micro psychology. This knowledge acts as a conduit into characters’ minds for actors and actresses, and learning which of the 19 mental elements most forcefully had been driving the character depicts a clear picture of his or her mind and enables authentically imitating them.
COMPARING IMITATIVE ARTS TO RHYTHMIC ARTS
A particular comparison between rhythmic arts to imitative arts helps us to understand both groups a bit deeper. In that, we need to notice that instincts are primeval, unchanging, stagnant, and thus primitive, but we have gained intellect through evolution. Hence, instincts are raw, more sensitive, and easily excitable than our evolving intellect that is secondary and not nearly as excitable. As mentioned before, music associates with the instinct of rhythm that strives for rhythmic repetition. And music touches the instinct of rhythm plus our inherent love of pleasing sounds. However, the arts of paintings and sculptures, as imitative arts, associate with the Utilitarian Intellect that strives for excellence. Because all instincts and the instinct of rhythm more readily get excited, many of the audiences in concerts performed by average local artists scream, cry and some even faint. However, they never react that way in museums where they are exposed to masterpieces from true masters of art such as Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Raphael, De Vince, and Michael Angelo. For, music relates to easily excitable instincts, but the imitative arts in museums relate to the Utilitarian Intellect that is not easily excitable. Otherwise, this trend would have been exactly the opposite.
THE ABSTRACT ARTS
Most abstract arts are in paintings. Humans’ love of dazzling colors and reaction to both desirable and unpleasant sounds and smells are universal. For instance, most people find certain sound qualities pleasant and certain others intolerable, such as scratching a blackboard with your fingernails. The same also holds true for scents, as all people find particular smells pleasing and pungent odors unpleasant. Peoples’ identical universal reaction to these phenomena proves that these associations are instinctive by nature.
The same also holds true for how humans relate to color. A glance at your environment reveals that anything that humans can cover with beautiful colors; they will do so. So strong is this instinctive love of color that nothing escapes it. The food in supermarkets, ladies’ beautiful faces, dump trucks, freight trains to the missiles we drop on each other’s houses are all covered with paint to beautify them, and that shows how intensely we cherish beautiful colors.
In nature, we most admire what displays the most dazzling colors. For instance, we love birds for their amazing colors and how fantastically nature mixes and matches different colors on them. Many people make bird watching as their life long hobby. We call some of these beautiful birds as the birds of paradise. We also love coral fish just the same and for the same reason, as they are equally as beautiful as are birds. We also love flowers again for their brilliant colors. Of course, this is not to discount their fantastic shapes and pleasing smells. To use one more example, our love of butterflies further validates this claim. In that, their beautiful colors make them one of nature’s most loved beings. Thus, humans’ intense love affair with brilliant colors is self-evident. Humans worldwide are drawn to beautiful colors like a moth is drawn to flame.
Knowing how humans love color, people splash or spray different beautiful colors on the canvas and sell them as arts sampled below. Most people not being aware of their intense instinctive attraction to colors, mistake this attraction with being attracted to what they perceive is the art in them. Hence, one can hardly find any abstract paintings in black and white. To be sure, the creativity in some abstract paintings far exceeds what is the mere color in them, but they are scarce.
The patrons of such paintings not being able to show what is the art in many of them contrive to attach artistic values to them. Using a few examples out of the many demonstrate this clearly. For instance, it is widely known that an abstract painter provides here pet monkey with painting material to see what it does with it. Because monkeys do what they see, the animal sticks the brush into different paints and scratches the canvas with it and certain images appear. The owner of this animal takes this “painting” into an art gallery and gets sold for about $8K. The subsequent paintings had sold for even more. Neither the expert in the gallery nor the art lovers could distinguish the difference between art and objects that were totally devoid of any artistic value.
To use another example, while back a television anchorman had brought five pieces of beautifully framed abstract paintings to the network. He had also invited four art critiques who wrote for famous art magazines to assess these arts for the audiences. Each took a turn and poetically described each of these objects saying the artist probably meant this by using those particular colors, and he meant that by their scales and intensities, and lavishly praised the arts. After they were done, he asked them if they could identify the artists from their styles, and they all declined. Then he told them to keep the little children from fighting each other in kindergarten they were given painting material for them to play with and these “arts” are their creation. The paintings below are not the paintings shown on the television. The examples presented throughout this text covering 40,000 years justify the claim that art has always been enjoyed, but never properly understood.
Reiterating what was said before, it is evident that we cannot mesh all arts together and expect to understand them as a unit that has failed us for millennia. I hope this new philosophical precept on the structure and function of the human mind that provides us with a new method of studying all mind related phenomena, a method that makes all such subjects more accessible as this philosophy has done.
Copyright, © Mark Abraham