Just a Thought – The Influence of the Arts | February 2024

“Art is not an end in itself, but a means of addressing humanity.”

– Modest Petrovitch Mussorgsky

For those of us living in the UK through the ongoing unfolding of the Post Office scandal we are bearing witness to one of the great miscarriages of justice in this country in modern times. That it could possibly happen here seemingly came as a big surprise to all – but that it took a truly great television drama, “Mr. Bates versus the Post Office” to change the course of this to a path of justice, seems, if anything, to have been an even bigger surprise.

“Art must take reality by surprise.”

– Francois Sagan

Art, in the general sense of the word covering all the humanities, has – and has always had since time immemorial – the power to change the way we feel, experience and see the world and to awaken us to new perspectives, ideas, and values. From cavemen drawings and jungle drums, to the Bible and statues, from the Greek tragedies to the Shakespearean Sonnets, from the books of Dickens to Blockbusters, from the theatre to TV dramas.

“Art is the expression of the profoundest thoughts in the simplest way.”

– Albert Einstein

Art – be it visual, written, spoken word, music, drawn, painted, designed, projected, truth or fiction – or indeed any combination of these – has the unique power to translate, interpret and portray peoples and places, conditions and circumstances. Art connects the human soul and spirit to create empathy. We are touched, moved, motivated and inspired – sometimes to bring about change – to demand a difference as a result of experiencing that particular work of art. Most other times this influence is gentler and more subtle – listening to a piece of relaxing music say and generally just feeling “better” for it – more human we might even say…and we may well act more human as a result…

“Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and space to think.”

– Brian Eno

In the case of the Post Office its not that reality isn’t enough – its that its far too much! It’s the ability of the Arts to break that reality down, to individualise the general, to make it human and personal to you, to make the facts and figures subservient to the human story and to enable us to see in “reality” what is in fact going on for people looking to live simple decent lives – the human predicament – just like the vast majority of us.

Having watched this drama it comes as absolutely no surprise to us that it has had the affect that it has – and we wholeheartedly join the applause.

Whilst we need the sciences to weigh and measure, we need the arts to feel and experience – that way, we will not only know the price of everything, but the value of everything as well.

“The object of art is to give life a shape.”

– Jean Anouilh

*the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.”