Art Makes Sense / by gene talbott

Most people enjoy art. We don't all enjoy all forms of art, but most people enjoy one, or a few. The reasons for that are surely as varied and complex as people are. But there is something, easily observable, that art does. It takes the stuff of the world, and arranges it.

Most of the stuff of the world is not arranged in a way that is explicable to us. Whether there even is any intrinsic significance and meaning to the shapes and substances of nature is a question for a different blog, although the prevalent love for and appreciation of nature suggests something, as does science in its essential spirit of inquiry at least.

In human things we find stuff we know has been arranged. Mostly it's been arranged to function. And generally, the stuff and substance that is being made to function a certain way is irrelevant. Just as long as it functions.

But art. In art we start to feel more strongly that the substance and its qualities have significance. They are some sort of language. A red feels very different from a blue. A sculptural concave curve very different from a sharp projection. A tremulous note different from a strong blast. Here we can more easily feel the nature of these things. Furthermore, the context into which these qualities are placed, which is the work of art as a whole--the arrangement, the composition, the ''next to,' the before-and-after--plays with the stuff and gives it more significance. It may be that the better the art, the more significance we feel and yet the more that significance is a mystery. That is too philosophical for me right now.

What I am thinking right now is that human nature is largely language. In art language becomes less and less abstract (and therefore harder to pin down.) And in art the stuff of nature, of our surroundings, becomes more significant. More communicative.

For a while, it makes more sense.