In school we get asked a couple billion questions. This was one of them. As you can see, sometimes I get bored in school:
‘What is the purpose of suffering? Is art transformative or palliative in the face of suffering?’
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “
agony, torment, torture, pain, or distress in any way that would lead to A. sighing with gusto, B. intensive and angst-ridden journal writing, C. about a billion used Kleenex acting like my new, thought slightly sticky, carpet, D. worst case scenario: full emotional breakdown requiring healthy amount of medication and an unhealthy dosage of chocolate),I just don't want to die without a few scars.” To me, Palhnuik has recognized the need to go through the refinery fires, to be burnt and ruined, only to come out of it changed into what you hope is a wiser, smarter, and more understanding individual. Will your scars, your suffering, refine you and shine you into a more beautiful person, and help you recognize true joy and life, or will suffering it take its toll and drag you down to its murky depths to chain you in your personal hell?
In the face of suffering, is art transformative or palliative? Do I create art in the wake of my suffering to change the emotion or do I do this to calm me? Or does the very viewing, listening, and/or overall partaking of art change or salve my emotion? I have had a few experiences when I have been listening to music, and there it is, right on the tip of my eardrums, a song, a verse, a chord that will rip through me and define the exact emotion that I am feeling at that moment. In those instances I have felt relief, as if now I know for certain that some has felt what I feel, like someone out there knows. I feel this validation, I can savor it and more clearly define it through that song, and in a way it helps me feel better. These instances are a lucky few, and I am bound to treasure them and remember them, but I can and do find it in similar ways through my overall partaking of the arts, though perhaps to a lessened degree. Seeing other’s renditions of emotions, in particular the more deep and passionate emotions, helps me make connections to others, and round out my overall understanding of human nature. Art is both transformative and palliative. Whether you are creating art or surrounding yourself with art, it has the capacity to both soothe you, and change you. The emotion, whether it is sorrow or other, can be morphed by the aesthetic experience, shedding light where light was dim, and throw shades over the parts you don’t need any longer. A human needs art to understand the depth of other’s humanity, to more clearly define their knowledge of human emotion. You need art to humanize yourself.