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January 8, 2017 / Congau

Art Is the Meaning of Life

In a sense it is. Art is an expression of what makes life worth living. It makes us human.

Art is not useful and that makes it meaningful. What is useful, what we really need, is only that which sustains life. We need to eat and we need to work to earn money for food, clothing and shelter. Other than that we don’t need anything; our animal existence is satisfied. But if life is just about sustaining life, we live in a meaningless circle, and art is the way out of this trap.

Human beings can create, they can make something out of sheer ideas and thereby step out of the pattern of repetitive instinct, that is, they can make art. They can also enjoy art, finding pleasure in pictures and music and words – the kind of enjoyment that goes beyond the unreflected satisfaction of animal appetites.

Whatever makes life meaningful for anyone has a share in this artistic quality. The enjoyment of friendly company is an exchange of ideas on whatever level. Work is enjoyable if it involves a certain amount of creativity. Sports and simple entertainment is a way out of tedious repetition, so even that takes part in this.

But art itself is the purest way to express what is meaningful, because it is not tainted by other considerations. Art is only for art’s sake. There is no contaminated usefulness in pure art; it is not compromised by the need for repetitive self-preservation or the wish to achieve something else. Art is an end in itself and only such a thing can make life meaningful.

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