Art is Just Another Tool for Understanding the world

At minute 1:25 of the Big Think video What Scientists and Philosophers Get Wrong about Art, Alva Noe says “Art is just another type of research.” I had already come to the conclusion that this was the truth for my scholarly writing. The process of writing a scholarly essay always taught me what it was that I actually thought on the subject. My essays would start with a nebulous idea of what I was trying to get across but by the end of each essay I would always surprise myself with what I actually thought about the particular subject. So I knew that writing an essay was a good way to better understand my thoughts on any given subject, but for some reason I never applied this reasoning to my art be it visual or written.

And recently, I had been wrestling around trying to come up with a good answer for why I write. Not to come up with one of the the typical reasons that I normally give: I write because it is fun, I write because it is another form of meditation, or I write because it is what I do. But to have a substantial reason for why I write. And by watching Alva Noe, I have realized that I have known all along. I write fiction and poetry (or do any other form of art) because it allows me to better understand my own thoughts and the world around me.

I had heard Albert Camus’s quote “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” But I think it is more than that. Fiction is the lie through we as the writer discover the truth (The truth can sometimes be discovered by the reader as well, but I already knew I could learn from reading). I often end up writing fiction based on arguments that I have recently had or social constructs that just don’t make sense when you actually think about them, and writing stories about them usually helps to resolve my feelings about them. So the answer has been in front of me all along and I didn’t recognize it until I was forced to see it. Why is it that the easiest things are the hardest to figure out? Maybe if I write a story about it, I will know.

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