Observations about Artforms

I have no justification for any of the following. Take it for what it is.

Music is the best overall artform. It is the most emotive, evocative, and simply beautiful of the artforms. In a way that goes beyond arguments, the existence of music counts as some evidence against total deflationism, nominalism, and nihilism. There’s something so perfect about it.

Painting is the freest artform. I’ve recently tried painting with oil on a few occasions – it is an out of control, boundless, maddeningly playful artform. In some sense, it’s too free for me. I can’t handle the responsibility. It is also the most immediate. Contrary to popular clichés, there’s something obvious to me about the idea that there’s never anything to decipher in a painting. What it is is straightforward – pure perception – and given to you all at once.

Writing is, obviously, the most conceptual artform. It can never not be entirely conceptual. For many a writer, myself included, this is gripe we have with it, something we try to strategize past. Great writing is supposed to be about transcending the conceptual, but it never can. Which is also why we do it. (And no, not even poetry can.)

I have an odd relationship to dance. For me, it’s the most personal and intimate artform. I don’t often enjoy dancing with others (with some notable exceptions), but I love dancing by myself. I have a ritual of turning off the lights and letting myself go with the music. So I don’t much value dance as a transmittable art. I don’t enjoy watching it all that much, usually feeling more impressed with what I see than enjoying what I see.

I admire the hell out of actors, but I don’t understand their craft at all. God bless them – they give a lot.

I almost forgot film. It’s odd, seeing as I’ve worked in film more than most other forms, but I respect film somewhat less than other artforms. It’s too damn expensive and much too literal. The greatest films – 2001: A Space Odyssey and Synecdoche, New York, if you’re asking – are as great as they are because they manage to transcend the usual literalness of the medium.

Life is an artform. It’s the richest, obviously, since it contains all the others. But it’s a very particular form. I think it is most like writing, but as a writer, maybe that’s to be expected. Its ueditability is its most distinct feature. Unlike every other artform (except maybe some forms of performance art), you can’t, as the artist, make changes. What I did on March 3rd, 2012, was sealed forever the moment I did it.

Philosophy is a series of games, and games are art.

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