Sam Speaks: The Value of Art in Society

Sam Speaks is a bi-weekly opinion/feature column, on almost every topic imaginable. Please note that the opinions expressed in these articles do not reflect those of The ISPP RUSH as a whole, nor those of the school.


The art of our ancestors

So, recently in class, we had a discussion about the value of art in society. More specifically, we talked about whether or not art was ‘essential’ to our civilisation. Since this is my opinion column, I figured this would be a perfect place for me to get my opinions out there.

I’ll say this right off the bat: art is a cornerstone of our civilisation. It is one of the most, if not the most, important assets that we have as a species.

Never thought I’d be discussing philosophy.

What separates humanity from the rest of the animals? What separates the Homo genus from that of the bear, of the wolf and the owl and the insects? It is not solely our ability to walk on two legs, or to speak, or to work together. What separates us is our ability to create art.

From the dawn of humanity, when we were living in caves, living day to day and off the land, we made art. We painted on the walls of caves, murals depicting the great hunts of our time. We drew the animals that lived with us. We drew the predators that stalked us.  Back then, we used art as a means to escape the mundane and sometimes terrifying reality of our ancient past. We used art to transcend our mortality and to live beyond what we were meant to. Those ancient cave paintings are still here, today. Since the beginning of our species, we created art!

Entertainment is also considered to be art. Books, films, TV, songs. Imagine a world without those. Life would be as dull as dishwater. We would be without anything to help us to escape the humdrum routines of our daily lives. We wouldn’t be able to watch any of our favourite shows. We wouldn’t be able to read our favourite books. There wouldn’t be any entertainment at all if not for art.

A key part of art that not many talk about is the creativity that comes with it. And without creativity, nothing (and I mean, nothing) would get done. You see, art means that we think outside of the box. Even if that art doesn’t interpret the world but merely represents ityou still require the creativity to actually create that art–be it films, TV, books, paintings, etc. Creativity is so important. Without art, and without creativity, we would live in a world set back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. After all, if none of us were creative, who would think to use fire to cook our food or to warm us at night? Who would think it better to settle down rather than be wandering tribes for the rest of their lives? Who would think to blast stones to melt down the ore inside, and then use that ore to make tools?

Without creativity, who would paint the Mona Lisa or the Starry Night? Who would compose the symphonies or invent rock or make the newest, catchiest songs? Who would think to create the computers that run our lives? Who would make the films that amaze us or the books that astound us?

I think, after all this talk, it all boils down to this.

Without art, we would live in a cold, sterile world with cold, sterile people, living cold and sterile lives. There would be nothing interesting. Nothing created. Nothing new.

-Samithi Sok


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