What is art comprised of?
The definitions would vary, would be as numerous as there are cultures, civilizations, sects, religions, an organization of people basically. What may be construed as art in some sections may be blasphemy, or even worse, something to ridicule fervently in others. And yet it is churned out in volumes, each and every year, more than can possibly be consumed and pondered upon.
Could we ponder upon art that one has no relation to whatsoever, the culture that gave birth to it so alien to our own so that any sort of commiseration is impossible? Can I possibly appreciate a tablet with stick figures drawn on it until I know it had been made sometime back in the Neolithic Age by a reclusive buffoon in a cave belonging to some obscure tribe, or that this buffoon had been my forefather? What is it that made it seem like an art piece to the people even then? Why did it then catch on among the others, like a novel endeavor, as if it was something quite central to people, something absolutely necessary to do? In a similar sense, can we then argue that the first time a fire was lit, a wheel was made, a stone was deciphered as a tool, symbols discovered and refined
to enable communication and so on and so forth, all instances of something ingenious? In other words, that anything new is art, and any artwork must necessarily be new, something that until then had seemed unfathomable and yet upon discovery seemed so tangible as well as within the domains of our existing thought?
What draws out the artist in people? Perhaps this need to go to uncharted territory, to claim a thought intrinsic to one’s own train of thought, or way of thinking, either on the basis of a personal craving, or as a result of someone egging you on through praise, adulation, a reward, patronage, or perhaps maybe even fear as we all saw in Scheherazade’s case.
Can one such category involve art evolving from absolute, raw hate then, or even a crude love for violence?
Violence has been fairly common since times immemorial, and is popular even today, as if it was something central to our psyche. Gory sequences are told and retold (with an accompanying trepidation or relish as the case may be), paeans, critical editorials and biographies written for murderers, propaganda made either or against, in some cases culminating in genocides.
We read about stabbings, suicide bombings, beheadings, genital mutilation, about foetuses cut off from a mother’s womb with the umblical cord used to strangulate her, newborn babies flung into the air to be caught at the point of a bayonet or shooting them mid air, a man whose limbs are tied to different horses which are then told to run in different directions, people tethered to the mouth of a cannon which is then fired, gas chambers, shooting squads, torture devices. We then wonder how ingenious these little quirks in the process of terminating a life might have seemed at the moment of its conception. In whom must this quirk have manifested – the perpetrator, the biographer supporting the perpetrator who would have done it to emphasize the perpetrator’s magnanimity so as to instill awe and fear(perhaps even fibbing in the process), or the writer belonging to the group documenting the violation of his own society(perhaps even fibbing in the process) to showcase the brutality in order to exhort the future generation to action or extract revenge? Or that far removed, alien culture that writes on the excesses of this deed as an outsider all the while muttering, “What savages!”
What we must then remember is that many men are despicable, many men are artists, and that many aspects of despicableness are still uncharted territories in their own right.