Intellectual and Community Essay

Outline:

  • The place and function of the intellectual in society
  • The artist in the community
  • Art, is man added to nature
  • Artist and social construction
  • It is the creative artist and not the politician, who is to regenerate human civilization
  • Artist and his relation to society

“All art is dust and ash if it fails to convey a didactic significance”, says John Ruskin. “Love of humanity”, says R. Warner, “is the greatest pre-requisite of all great art. But art does not reform by beating its drums and blowing trumpets. It suggests, instructs and preaches silently and its appeal is abstract, though immensely powerful.” Art, according to the same authority, “is the expression of divine beauty – beauty in man and community.”

The world has had enough of bald-headed political destiny maker and breaker, who, many a time, endeavored their utmost to plunge mankind into an inferno of most devastating catastrophe. Making politics a peg in-a-crumb and creating artificial barriers of ideological faction these politicians and statesmen have reaped to the boom their harvest of hatred between one nation and another, thereby infusing into humanity a tendency of conflict and clash. The entire humanity has been torn into so-called ideological fragments; each intoxicated with the wine of hatred for the other. The result is chaos, which makes modern man terribly confused and bewildered. He is in a state of criss-crossia about his ultimate fate.

“Enough of politicians! Quite – enough of diplomats”, wrote Bernard Shaw. “They are the Hangos and Carbars of our modern civilization; nay I call them worse than the two infidels of mythology; our modern diplomats are Satan-incarnates whose only aim in life is to throw the worthy guests at the holy feast into the first of hell’. It is not the military commander, nor the nuclear scientist who is to be held responsible if the Third World War break out,” thunders Albert Graham Wallace, “the entire responsibility of leading mankind to an inferno of death will be on the shoulders of our modern politicians and diplomats”. The impact of modern diplomacy on our civilization has been not only politically damaging but morally and spiritually degenerating.

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Late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, presiding over the 13th UNESCO. The session, said that, the U.N.O. failed miserably to adjust and re-shape the destiny of modern man, simply because of the naked fact that too much of political consciousness has dominated and overwhelmed the members of this world forum.” According to him, it was UNESCO, which, through its intellectual, cultural, moral and artistic contribution to humanity’s needs might bring about the redeeming pattern of our time. “Where war or politics fails”, says Nehurole, “art is bound to come out triumphant.”

“Art” says Ruskin; “in its creative spirit, is to convey the significance of man’s inner attitude towards everything – society, individual, religion, morality….”. “As an artist”, says E.M. Forster, “I dislike the stuff too much didaction. My lawgivers are Erasmus and Montaigne, not “Moses and St. Paul. My temple of art stands not upon Mount Moriab but in that Elysian Field where even the worst immortals are admitted. My motto, as an artist of the present atomic age is; Lord I disbelieve help thou my unbelief!” These words of the modern philosopher have a paradoxical context to study and examine the truth, concealed, deliberately.

As a matter of fact, Art is not an end in itself, but a means for attaining social reform and cultivating moral re-orientation of a social order, which has been corrupted into decay. Art – a creative and genuine art – does serve society as well as the individual. It must lead to the betterment of society. “It is a means of addressing humanity.” The artist, however, does not see things as they are, but as he is. All great art is subjective. Here lies distinction between an artist, and a scientist. All art is a freedom of the subject from the clutches of the object. It is innate, unexpressed and self-sufficient. It is as natural as breathing for man. The artist has to create because of his nature. We cannot live without art. As Jean Paul Richter says: “Art is, indeed, not the bread but the wine of life.”

It is on account of this that the artists have not been recognized so easily. “Art is difficult, transient in her rewards”, said Schiller. Like the true moralists, the artist is detached from consequences. Art is self-imposed; it requires no external sanction. – social or otherwise. An artist lives with his art and dies with it; it is not a mechanical production but a self-manifestation, a creation through self-expression.

This, however, does not mean that art serves no purpose. The purpose of art is the same as that of Nature. What is the purpose of a beautiful rose blooming on a green stem? What is the purpose of a starlit night? What is the reason of a river’s flow and ocean’s roar, a mountain’s height and innumerable aspects of Nature? But have not they served any purpose? The sublime altitudes of the Himalayas, the exalting vision of the ocean give up something inexpressible and we are richer by it. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Art serves men as all other great things do. It exalts them, like all deep feelings and sublime visions.

All true art must be spiritual, for spirituality is the only criterion of its greatness. The more spiritual the art, the more is its greatness. This, however, does not mean that art can be devoid of feeling of the physical or vital plane, our joy and tears, our loves and sorrows spirit does not negate either sensibility or reason but transforms and integrates them in its higher synthesis. Art is for the sake of art, for the self-realization of the artist. But since the self is no other than the self in the universe which is the same as God, so art is for God’s realization in man, as well as in society through the bliss of the Divine.

Art can negate social values only, at the pains of being reduced to a mere selfish view of life. Self-realization is not selfishness. Art is self-fulfillment through self-sacrifice. The artist rises from the limited world of everyday life, looks into the essence within and creates something impersonal, universal and hence, suggestive. Such has been the art of the great artist everywhere. It is the most precious treasure of mankind. It is the essence of culture. It is the expression of divine in man and an expression of divine bliss in the community. The artist paints the beauty, which has filled his soul and has been overflowing for expression; he sings the divine music, which is ringing, in his breath. He dances to the tune of his inner inspiration ringing from the narrow limits of his ego, he identifies himself with what he expresses through his art. He pours himself in his work of art; he becomes “it”, feels it, lives in it, laughs and weeps with it.

Today, we need, above all other things, a re-orientation of man’s outlook, because without re-orientation of human out-look there can be no possibility of reconstruction of the world. The politicians and diplomats have created such a complicated and difficult situation due to their self-centered political jugglery that it has become almost a Herculean task to rid the present civilization of ours its myriad-fold ills and abuses. The world, which is a replica of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ today, can be converted into a Paradise of Milton’s Eden, only if the artist contributes his creative genius for the rehabilitation of the science shattered world.

For bringing about re-adjustment of human relations and understanding of human values. We have to charter services of creative art. Leo Tolstoy aptly said: “If I am to take my friends to the holiest chapel: if I am to carry my sincerest benediction to those who love me or who are beloved to me, I can succeed only behaving as an artist, and not as a philosopher or reformer. When St. Peter prayed and wept for his past sins, St. Alosis, who stood by, embraced the repentant saint and said: “ Thou are to create noble and sublime in future not for thyself but for the community.”

All artists – whether a poet: a landscape painter, a sculptor, a dramatist or a story – writer derive there guiding inspiration from Nature, viz. A reality, perceived through senses. “A flaming sunset, a lovely rose, a winning heart – attracting smile of a maiden, the innocent sweet laughter of children, the heart -rendering grief of a broken-hearted lover, the pathos over a premature death, all these and many more are subjects which awaken an artist into a creative activity. To an artist – a creative artist – a thing of noble beauty is a joy forever. He is concerned, mainly with the task of imparting joy:

For oft when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood

They flash upon that inward eye,

Which is the bliss of solitude

Conclusion

Today, when the storm of violence and chaos is raging in its full fury, when specters of destruction’s, of devastation’s of war are threatening mankind with utter annihilation when science has run aggressively insane, when the Church ceases to offer solace to tormented and aggrieved humanity, it is the artist to whom the world is looking for help and relief. The ‘war – manufacturing’ politicians have had their hey-days; they are now looked down upon with universal contempt, regarded as arch – enemy of world peace. We have had enough of them. Now it is for the artist to come forward with a redeeming beacon of hope to guide the vessel of human destiny through the dark heaving stormy waves of dread and frustration.

Love of humanity is an essential pre-requisite of all great art. But art does not reform by preaching, its reform is deeper and more fundamental. It suggests it elevates, it transforms through autosuggestion, through universalization of feelings through the exaltation of heart. Thus art is for the community in so far as it is universal. It is individualistic in so far as it is the self-expression of the artist. The two views are only two aspects of the same reality since the self is individual as well as universal. Art is the expression of divine beauty, beauty in man and community.

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