Is there one of the arts that you just do not understand? Which one?
Sometimes I read a prompt so broad I have to stop and think about it for a while before I can even come to an understanding of what it is asking so that I can answer it efficiently. This is one of those prompts. My knee jerk reaction to this was “no, not really.” I mean, there is a lot I don’t know about various arts, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand why it exists as art.
But then I got thinking about the basest layer of this prompt, in that “what even are “the arts” defined as?” Turns out, it depends on who you ask. In the long, long ago, there was no distinction. All art and craft were referred to by the same word. Basically, if you had a skill, it was also an art. This persisted into more recent times (and by recent I mean the middle ages) where skills in logic or rhetoric or grammar were considered art. They were the dawn of “liberal arts,” sure, but still we see that word “art.” Now they’re a subset of the humanities.
The point is, it’s difficult to classify the arts and therefore hard to determine if there are any I do not understand. Especially once you go deeper down the rabbit hole of each particular classification. If you want to classify the main arts as literature, painting, sculpture, and music.
Sticking with painting, you have abstract paintings as a subset. I suppose I will never understand how a solid canvas of a single color with, say, a single splotch of a different color could ever be considered “fine” art. I guess I’m just of the same small mind that views that and thinks “my toddler niece could sneeze on a piece of paper and it wouldn’t look much different than this” and yet here we are. (Disclaimer, my niece is not a toddler, but I do not have children of my own and it was a metaphor so shut up.)
I guess in a similar vein, I don’t really “get” literary fiction. Maybe that’s why I write so much speculative fiction. Because literary comes off as boring and pretentious to me. It saddens me that we didn’t get to learn about much speculative and genre fiction in school. We had to study the “classics” and the “literary” works. We could read space operas or epic fantasies on our own time but we weren’t going to spend a second of class time analyzing the themes and allegories of science fiction.
It’s ok though. I don’t have to understand an art to appreciate its existence. It just wasn’t made for me. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t made for anyone. We can’t all like everything. We would go mad. I enjoy the arts I enjoy and others enjoy the arts they enjoy and sometimes those arts intersect and we can bond over shared interests or sometimes they don’t and we can try to educate each other. The arts are as wild and varied as the people who love them, and I think that’s the most important thing to understand.
Notes: What a weird little prompt. Yes, I took much of my definitions of “the arts” from the Wikipedia page on the topic. I don’t typically do a lot of research for these little one-two hour prompt-writing sessions and Wiki is about the extent of any research I do do. (Heh, I said doodoo. I’m an adult I swear.)
Don’t have much else to add on this beautiful Wednesday night. Being back to work today was weird, and I’m already halfway through the week. Which given the way my first day back went, I’m grateful for. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but if I had four more days of this instead of just two, I would probably lose my mind. If I still had it. Anyway.
Have a great night! I’ll see you back here same time tomorrow!
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