Secular Sources of Hope Part 3: The Aesthetic Imperative

It’s really hard to describe the feeling of hope the arts give people. We attempted it before in The Arts: A Vital part of being human but even that didn’t really do it justice. In Howe’s description he says:

  1. The Aesthetic Imperative – utilizing the visual Arts- both elite and popular- as a mechanism for social and personal transformation. All four case studies embody explicit sources of ‘hope’ for 21st century individuals, communities and societies.

The important part of what he said being ‘as a mechanism for social and personal transformation”.

Part 1: Social Transformation

All forms of the arts painting, sculpture, music, theater, movies…etc. all have a powerful ability to express in a way that promotes social transformation in everything from economic and social justice to equal rights and equality to ecology…etc. There are many examples of people using art to enact social change. Here are some of the more famous ones:

Guernica by Picasso

Dada: An anti- war movement inspired by world war 1 that primarily used satire.

David Alfaro Siqueiros: Used his art to reach out to common people of Mexico.

Picasso: His work Guernica is credited as inspiring the modern human rights movement.

Vietnam: Ronald Haeberle, Peter Saul, Carl Andre, Norman Carlberg and Nancy Spero all used their art as a form of protest and made a significant impact.

In More modern times:

Some of Banksy’s work.

Banksy: An anonymous graffiti artist who uses his art to make political and social statements.

Rage Against The Machine: Used music to  inspire an entire generation to be active in social and political change.

Pussy Riot: A band who famously went to jail for protesting Putin and government corruption in Russia.

The arts can give us so much hope to that we can make positive change in the world Adorno said:

 ‘all art is an uncommitted crime’,

Personal Transformation:

The arts are so powerful we can use the arts to transform not just culture and society but ourselves as well. We can find our personal lives transforming through the arts in three different ways:

It’s Therapeutic

Artistic expression of all kinds leads a satisfaction not only in completing an art piece but expressing ourselves in whatever way we feel. Expression of an art from is so good for you that some psychotherapists actually use art therapy to treat mental illnesses and unresolved psychological issues.

It Expands Horizons

Getting involved in artistic expression opens doors to different cultures and other worldviews. Either in the art works themselves and/or the other artists.

Lifestyle Change

The arts can lead to entire lifestyle change. You don’t need to pursue the arts as a career to being involved in art museums, clubs and galleries.  As a hobby one can engage in many rewarding social activities and get to know other artists and influential figures in the arts.

Whether you use your artistic expression to reach and make change through political and social statements or to bring change in yourself both will  bring powerful meaning and hope into your life.










Let’s Be Optimistic About Our Future

Here here! Our  science fiction has indeed been a bit gloomy lately.

Neal Stephenson has seen the future—and he doesn’t like it. Today’s science fiction, he argues, is fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios—think recent films such as The Road and TV series like “The Walking Dead.” Gone are the hopeful visions prevalent in the mid-20th century. That’s a problem, says Stephenson, author of modern sci-fi classics such as Snow Crash. He fears that no one will be inspired to build the next great space vessel or find a way to completely end dependence on fossil fuels when our stories about the future promise a shattered world

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