I was listening to one of my favorite programs today, CNN’s The Next List. I have them recorded so I can watch at my convenience. This was about an old world trained fifth generation Master Silversmith named Ubaldo Vitali. OK, interesting, I like a good craftsman and artist, until I heard this, and my mouth dropped.
“I do believe that the biggest gift we have is to converse with a work of art, the way we interact with a work of art.
Paracelsus, the great alchemist, used to say, ‘True knowledge does not come from books, it come through your feet as you walk through life.’…When I walk into a museun and I look at the young people…looking at the works of art and I see their faces illuminated by pleasure, part of me wants to perhaps help them, to share with them the walk that I took, and the lessons I have learned….I try to give lectures because this interaction is going to disappear.
In recent years through the computers, the great computer age, we are loosing in a certain way, interaction with real objects. I mean the computer can capture everything, but…a computer doesn’t feel any pain, doesn’t feel any joy, it cannot suffer. These things can only be learned through human interaction, not through books, and not through the computer.
Art fulfills specifically that aspect of life. Art can communicate all those things. All of them, in a very quick and easy way.
Just look at them, look at a work of art, listen to a work of art, communicate with it. They are talking to you. Just listen, and answer.”
The truth of that, in so many aspects, relationships, eroticism, and the simple joy of life, brought me to tears. It is not that I can not feel joy or pain, or suffer because of something I see or have read on the computer, but what is missing is when my actions cause those feelings in someone else. What is missing is the knowledge that every human should have, that what they do affects other people profoundly and that they should be responsible for that.
I can not help but see a connection between the vast decrease in funding for art in school, the overwhelming increase in text and computer interactions, and the disturbing lack of empathy, care and simple manors that I around me.
Our purpose in this life and on this world is to, wherever we can, find those opportunities to join with other people with empathy for our shared human condition, difficult as that may be. Art is a conduit. Listen.