Scott Postma

Discover your significance, create meaningful art, and make a difference that actually matters

7 Premises Modern Artists Miss

Artists like Homer, Dante, and Milton knew something of art–what it is, what it means, and what it’s for.

But the fact that art is for something, and has a base of reference other than itself is an alien idea to most modernists.

In his book, On Moral Fiction, John Gardner argues that true art is moral and cultivates, not debases, humanity.

So before making art this week, consider these seven premises Gardner offers on the moral nature of art:

  1. The traditional view is that true art is moral: it seeks to improve life, not debase it.
  2. Art asserts and reasserts those values which hold off dissolution, struggling to keep the mind intact and preserve the city, the mind’s safe preserve. Art rediscovers, generation by generation, what is necessary to humanness.
  3. In art as in politics, well-meant, noble-sounding errors can devalue the world.
  4. True art is a conduit between body and soul, between feeling unabstracted and abstraction unfelt.
  5. Art, in sworn opposition to chaos, discovers by its process what it can say. That is art’s morality.
  6. Art builds; it never stands pat; it destroys only evil. If art destroys good, mistaking it for evil, then that art is false, an error; it requires denunciation.
  7. …true art is about preservation of the world of gods and men.

What are you creating this week that builds, preserves, discovers, or improves the world around you?

About Scott Postma

Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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