2. The Arts
If all three "legs" of a meaningful way to a modern world-view are important, then we should take a closer look at each of them. First, let us look at the arts. We need to ask ourselves what we actually want to accept as arts. For sure, this is not limited to the Fine Arts.
The word "arts" itself expresses that something artificial is meant. At the same time, this artificial creation should be a real "arte factum" in the original Latin sense, expressing that it is made with the capability of a trained person who knows his or her handicraft. Both meanings are interconnected. About the meaning, the frame, and the practical setting, nothing has been said for the moment. But the word ?frame? already plays an important role in the art of painting. It is an essential part of any art to limit itself by setting a frame.
Arts, essentially, are means of expression, to whatever capacity is available to a creative person. What does this mean? Well, the complete human being consists of a head, an upper body, a lower body, and extremities, the arms and legs. These four areas of the body will be taken as symbols for the intellect, the feelings, the sex- and power-areas, and the sphere of activities including work and any other enterprises in our life.
Each of these four parts can express itself by means of arts. The matter, therefore, is much more complex than it might appear at first glance. Nowadays, the impression that the arts are something very complex and profound is gaining weight. This impression becomes more "ARS UNA" accentuated once we contemplate that the head as uppermost part not only comprises the intellect, but also quite different forms of sensory perception: seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting. Each of these parts can, of course, contribute to the arts and even become an essential part of a limited domain of the arts, according to how we set the frame.
As well as having the eyes and ears as a base for the arts, the nose and mouth can be such a base too in the form of the arts of cooking, for instance. The brain can also use thought and speech to produce this base. What, however, hinders us from combining these different forms of arts? This would not only mean allowing a larger frame, but allow quite new dimensions. For example, could this be a way to higher valued spheres, and maybe even to spiritual domains? We will not respond to this question for the moment, although let us remember that only if there are at least three parts together will we have a stable base.
We should also consider the concept of "multimedia", which signifies not only putting together pictures (and moving pictures such as movies) and sound, but also the vital role the mental part (the brain) plays. The arts of the brain include literature with all its different forms, for instance poetry, and also the production of artistic screenplays.
And how do we introduce the concept of the frame? We said that the arts are something created artificially. This corresponds to our idea of fiction. Non-fiction books, in this sense, do not represent arts, but have to be accounted for in the scientific domain. But it is completely left up to us to decide to what extent a certain form of arts chosen by us uses the various forms of perception including thinking and the different ways of communication.
Poetry already entangles the realm of feelings, which we attribute in our symbolic subdivision to the upper body. We say something is a matter of heart, such as unconsciously breathing deeply, while every person with medical knowledge understands the heart is an ingenious blood pump. Yet we should not overestimate the attribution of feelings to organs like the heart, for this attribution shows us that the mental spheres are largely separated from the feelings. Therefore, we find that both of these will also be largely separated forms of expression in the arts.
We can get access to the first and second domains by means of contemplation, prayer, and especially through meditation. These methods have a long history of development, and include sympathy, sensibility, sacral songs, or saying mantras as the means of their expression.
Thus we immediately ask, whether sexuality and the power area of the next domain, both attributed to the lower body, also find their own expression in the arts. For a long period this insight was suppressed and tabooed, especially in the Occident, by the three big religions and by the ruling ranks. Nowadays, however, we can talk more openly, on one side, about depictions of virgins, baroque angels, and even more permissive modern depictions, and, on the other side, about art forms expressing political power, for instance, the architecture of castles, fortresses, and even modern government buildings. This tendency is equally inherent in all forms of arts, i.e., literature, cinema, and multimedia productions that are considered to be artistic.
The fourth domain, attributed to the arms and legs, means the artistry as well as the lifestyle of artists. All artistic branches have their base in artistry. But the most important part seems to be the lifestyle that had the potential to become its own art. Leading the life of an artist is certainly not simply the expression of a lack of discipline, but a much more continuous search for insights and new forms of expression. Such a life is possible only under a maximum condition of freedom.
Let us go back to our declared goal to get insights about how we see the world and our life! In which the four domains are we most likely to get some answers? Certainly, everybody will have some difficulties in answering this question. However, it is only a trick question just to show that the answer has to be sought somewhere else. Only all four domains together will help us to find really decisive insights. Only an artist committing himself or herself to the complete life will get really deep and meaningful insights that make our world-view larger and more articulate. This means they will have to let all possibilities enter their body, into their arts and their conceptions, including religious and scientific insights.
The mental separation of the four domains, as attributed to the different parts of the body, makes it clear that we have to find an inner equilibrium. We should not select parts arbitrarily, but in the first place try to develop all our abilities equally, even if we have to accept the danger of infringing upon established taboos or never becoming specialists. Didn?t we hear once already about the search for the way of the middle path?
Each artist who is busy exclusively with the reproduction of what they are perceiving - not pursuing only the depiction of something seen or the generation of sounds, which may be commercially interesting - will certainly get during their artistic discoveries into inner as well as outer areas something endlessly bigger, endlessly farer, endlessly higher, or in the same way endlessly smaller, endlessly further inside, endlessly deeper. They will feel the infinite vastness of our universe, and at a certain point can incline themselves in astonishment towards it. The same thing will happen if they further penetrate into the micro-world - if the artist becomes aware that everything in front of him or her is again residing in something still smaller. This is not only valid for a descriptive artist, but for everyone taking the arts seriously and looking, as we say, beyond the immediate perceivable horizon. A musician will come to the same insights, too. He will feel that each musical chord can be inserted into some kind of ?higher? music, and that each sound will always have still more ?inner life?.
Any artist who is not dogmatically fixed has observed these limits on such a search. The arts do not start from a single initial point either. During the search new initial points can always be established. Somewhere maybe his arts will dissolve and go on in another new form. He will change the existing version and look whether the new one better expresses what he is feeling or wants to communicate, or whether this becomes more difficult than before. Anybody who knows the lives of artists and their difficult paths towards new ways of perceiving will be aware of how much failing and frustration comes about before reaching a break-through at a certain point. And even once they have reached such a break-through, they will run into difficulties to find acknowledgements from their colleagues and the prevailing academic environment.
Does an artist who penetrates deeper into these areas not necessarily arrive at more religious ideas? Don't they almost automatically have the word infinity on their lips? Don't they almost certainly ask where everything comes from and where it will go at its end?
The occidental culture, in this way, has been dominated for a long time by the established religions such as the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic religions. The artists, in general, did not have much difficulty in accepting the ideas about infinity discussed by all three religions. But questions about the creation of this world and the apocalyptic end remained an almost unsolvable problem for them, to be circumvented only by relying on the fixed ideology of the respective holy books. The fact that they were always able to create new forms of arts, and equally the fact that sometimes other branches of arts disappeared, or were able to survive only after strong changes, seemed to be a completely different problem not related to the obligatory beliefs.
Indeed, ideas about a creation out of nothing and about an apocalyptic end of the world that left nothing behind were forbidden from the artists? thoughts, even though they were clearly in contradiction to this idea of infinity.
This was not all that was forbidden. Even expressing their own world of feelings had narrow proscribed limits. For instance, we hardly still remember how difficult the break-through of Romanticism came about in Central Europe. Often they saw a danger of the generally accepted values of society, and maybe not without reason. But what was wrong, the feelings or the values?
Still worse was the situation concerning anything of the sexual sphere. Yes, virgins and angels could be depicted as naked, but already this incited the anger of the upper echelon of the churches of the established Western religions who soon decreed covering the genitals with fig-leaves. These tendencies were not simply limited only to depicting arts. In the same way music was rejected if it left the area of the ?superior? domain such as happened with established folk-dances and sturdy dance-music. The fact that the Kamasutra and Tantra in India had developed to the level of superior arts became known in Europe only much later. But India too fell into bigotry nourished by the double-standards of the Victorian colonial empire.
For a long time artists have had enormous difficulties having their work accepted. In the Middle Ages many artists were put down as vagrant people, and this tradition continued, for instance in theatres, till the last century.
Despite all this, and maybe even because of this, in the Western cultural hemisphere a sense or feeling developed that only an equilibrated way that allowed space for all these domains - the mental, the feelings, the sexual, and free activities, could provide a way ahead. The word "ahead" may appear to have strong connotations of being extroverted, but in analogy, the introverted way towards ourselves and our interior being is meant.
What is the guiding line, the essential dimension of this artistic search? First of all we have to mention the search for the beautiful. This search does not seem to be the only one driving an artist ahead. But whether selecting the themes of his or her activities or selecting the means of expression, beauty seems to play the most important role. It seems to be the decisive dimension of the arts. And isn't it that artists themselves are often especially beautiful people?