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A World Without Art

In a world without art, I would wake up in a house with blank walls. I wouldn’t pass by my framed print of Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee while padding my way to the kitchen to make coffee or stare at the sculpture of The Thinker while sipping it. My mug would not have a semi humorous/sarcastic quip saying, ‘Hold on, let me over think this.’ In fact I would not be able to recognize the stream of consciousness in my mind for what it is because James Joyce would have never written Ulysses and made an ordinary person’s internal journey seem relevant. I wouldn’t wipe the dust off Nick Rowling’s Art Source Book lying on my coffee table, and plan (albeit unsuccessfully) to spend a Sunday morning perusing its contents. Yet, although I have reached only page 27, paintings like Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863) or Edvard Munch’s The Dance of Life (1899), which help me appreciate a bygone era, would not be around, and so I would not be enriched.

The absence of art would subdue my experience of the world, even numb it. I would have no black and white op art frame on my bathroom wall to get lost in while soaking in the tub, or a Mexican Aztec print bedcover to tuck in before I left home. My mirror image, without a quirky scarf thrown over my shoulders, might lack in style. And instead of carrying Allie Brosh’s Solutions and Other Problems (or another such bestseller) to lift my spirits during a lull in the day, and a copy of the latest Vogue (for window shopping at my desk), I would carry instead, a black and white newspaper. A newspaper minus the culture section, telling me about art exhibitions (never mind if I don’t have the time to go for them), and shows that I can’t always afford (unless I want to watch everything from a bird’s eye view) would diminish in value because the important news is anyway out on the Internet.

 I might step out into a bland world minus art. There would be no offensive graffiti-such as democracy is dead, or capitalism has failed- to balk over. I couldn’t listen to Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You while driving or quickly switch to Can’t Stop by Red Hot Chilli Peppers at a traffic light if someone peered at me curiously from the next car. I may not have anything in common with my colleagues if I couldn’t pick sides in Marriage Story during the lunch hour, or enjoy planning dinner with my friends at a restaurant that served good food if it didn’t display any specific decor. Give me Scandinavian wood or Chinese dragons and red lanterns, but I need something to define the moment; to understand where the dishes come from.

In a world without art, human beings would continue to breathe, eat, reproduce and progress; but hey, it’s possible that Steve Jobs spoke for all of us when he said: I want to put a ding in the universe.

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