Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Artifying of Life

I found this article about the role of art in human existence quite compelling:

The Dance of Evolution, or How Art Got Its Start
(The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2007)

I particularly liked this passage:
Art, she and others have proposed, did not arise to spotlight the few, but rather to summon the many to come join the parade — a proposal not surprisingly shared by our hora teacher, Steven Brown of Simon Fraser University. Through singing, dancing, painting, telling fables of neurotic mobsters who visit psychiatrists, and otherwise engaging in what Ms. Dissanayake calls “artifying,” people can be quickly and ebulliently drawn together, and even strangers persuaded to treat one another as kin. Through the harmonic magic of art, the relative weakness of the individual can be traded up for the strength of the hive, cohered into a social unit ready to take on the world.
I think it's particularly intriguing that Ellen Dissanayake, an "independent scholar" and the main subject of the article, does not have a doctorate (as the author points out), but has written books that are "considered classics among Darwinian theorists and art historians alike." I know nothing more about Ms. Dissanayake than what I read in this article, but to bring together such diverse groups of people and achieve recognition without those three little letters after one's name is an accomplishment that sets an admirable example and gives me hope.

If you'd like to read the article, hurry, because The New York Times archives them quickly.

Via Arts & Letters Daily, which I like so much, I made it my home page. It makes me feel so intellectual...

1 comment:

Denis Dutton said...

Ellen Dissanayake's work is amazing. Check out my review of here Homo Aestheticus. She also has a personal website you can find through Google.

Glad you enjoy ALD.