Have you ever thought about how powerful, or influential artists are? Maybe it is a bit of self-flattery on my part to think this, but I think artists are among the most influential people – more than judges, lawgivers, even kings. It is the artist who commands forms of orderliness and beauty that direct our lives, values and actions, though often on a subliminal level.
Beauty, and Art, can be a law above laws. Beauty calls to everyone, in every circumstance, tribe and nation. Art informs us on values and expectations, and beauty pulls us without any threats as law does. There may be no higher “law” than beauty in the hearts of humankind. Beauty simply calls to the soul for us to reflect its order.
The Artist (authors, film makers, architects, painters, musicians, dancers, designers, photographers, poets, etc.) therefor commands great power. This is a subtle power that even kings may not know they are under. The artist might not even know the power they have, or the responsibility they carry. Even a simple story, or image can communicate what is good and what is evil.
This power can be misused, and abused. Take Architects, for example – they can make people feel like worms or tell them where it is appropriate to linger, speak, or be hush. They can tell you with hidden vocabularies what your status and place in society is. Fashion (or clothing) designers also hold this power, to communicate with hidden terms what job we hold, and who we are to obey or serve. The advert designer can tell us what we like, and what to buy to find our way in society. The chef can cook up delights to make us eat even when we are well fed, and make us eat things we know are bad for us. A musician and a dancer can bend you about so much that you cry in sorrow or leap with delight. I’m inclined to say they very nearly all have magic that they cast upon heart, mind, and soul.
The doctor seeks to heal, the officer seeks to maintain, but the artist – the artist can call the soul of a society, to virtue and to folly, into order or into ruin. Though, the common man may say, “being an artist is a lowly, risky and worthless practice” – but even the common man’s words are a kind of art, a powerful spell, that can sterilize creativity, cursing the artist with normality.
Cling to beauty if you see it! Speak it, sing it, share it! We are all in desperate need of it. A life without beauty is violence.