Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is
Yeah … I guess I must … anyway … as I have said before, when I was taking both secular philosophy (ethics at a secular university) and moral theology (at a Jesuit school, Seattle University), I was taught, in different ways and in different dialects, that Knowledge plus Power equals Responsibility. I.e., if I know that a given situation is morally wrong and if I have the power to effect change, then I am morally responsible for acting so as to alter the situation and right the wrong. And, moreover, the degree of responsibility varies directly with the scope of my knowledge and my power to effect that change. E.g., there is not much I can do to alleviate the plight of Syrian refugees. Maybe all I can do is to give money. But I am obligated to do at least that much. Given how wides
In Shadowlands, the movie about the courtship and marriage of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham, C. S. Lewis is quoted as saying “We read to know we are not alone”. I have found multitudes of citations where people quote Lewis as having said this in those very words, but have so far found no specific source, no book, no article, no lecture, for this remark. But even if Lewis did not say it, he should have. For in my own personal experience, there have been instances too abundant to count where this proved to be the case with uncanny timeliness. The following examples do not even scratch the surface. But in virtually all cases of where I have been reminded that I am not alone, this reminder also amounted to a revelation of what I myself thought even at times when I was not aware