Thursday, June 24, 2010
Art, Self, and Love
When I was in Eger, Hungary, speaking at the European Leadership Forum, on May 26, 2010, Ellis Potter made some short but telling remarks about art. The plenary session that evening was called, "Culture Night," and attendees were free to attend three different presentations on various aspects of art. After attending these sessions, we went back into the main auditorium for some comments by Ellis, formerly a L'Abri worker and presently a freelance minister in Europe.
He mentioned that many people say that, "I do not know art, but I know what I like." This is meant to silence all criticism and justify whatever preferences the person may have. Ellis responded by saying that yeast knows what it likes--the wet and the sweet. Thus, if you know what you like you have risen to the level of an asexual, one-celled organism. These "I know what I like" comments are gratifying, affirming, and empowering of the self; they do not look out into the broader world for objective value. God is love, and love is other-centered, not self-centered.
Thus, we should develop our artistic appreciations in the mode of love. Subjectivism in artistic taste is demeaning and profoundly unChristian.