Sunday, May 1, 2011

Faith in (Pop) Culture II

...but you know? No one's eternal life ever rested on a movie or a pop band. In the words of a pop band that thought they were hot stuff but is now part of the cultural fizzle of the 90s: please don't put your life in the hands of a rock and roll band/ and throw it all away.

The sublime of art, it can make you feel, but after that? You have to get up. You've got to start doing something for someone. Art can direct us to places we haven't been before, but there's nowhere that says artists have things figured out better than any of the rest of us. Someone's capacity to write a song that yanks out your heart isn't necessarily correlated with their knowledge of perfect truths that will bring you personally the joy you seek. If you meet Bob Dylan on the side of the road, to paraphrase the 70s book, kill him.

Art and film will access in you what you already have. Ranking Pixar films with my sister, we had a stand-off over whether Finding Nemo or Ratatouille was the better film. I told her how moving I found Ratatouille's gentle condemnation of criticism. It worked for me as an English major, as a writer. She told me how Finding Nemo struck all of her best parenting instincts and fears. We both couldn't see the sublime in each other's film, in part because those films' sublimity was half provided by us already. We were attune to receive the force of the messages we had been internally seeing anyway.

I wonder if this isn't related to the fact that grumpy people find things to complain about and critical people find things to be critical over and loving people find things to love.

I wonder also how this fits into "virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy." Maybe these qualifying works of art inspire us to be better people; maybe they just remind us of the better people we've known we could be.

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