There are times I feel disconnected from myself and from my surroundings; pessimistic. When I have difficulty finding cheer. In those times, I sometimes turn to Jack London. Last night, I began a London short story before bed, and finished it with coffee this morning. It worked well. It made me feel better. I wondered at that – it didn’t seem a matter of distraction-entertainment, the way a movie can sweep you away. I was still myself, in my place; I just felt better, more peaceful and optimistic. Elevated. What was it?
Come here, I’ll tell you.
People say, ‘You can’t explain art.’ or ‘No one really knows what art is.’
Bullshit. I’ll tell you what art is. Art is a conduit between the reality we experience and the world behind the veil. Life is a mystery, and art lets us feel that mystery, to understand it, though we can’t explain it. That is the thread between music, literature, sculpture, painting and dance. This understanding imparted, this temporary harmony with existence, makes us feel peace. We touch the rock, and feel steadied by it. I don’t claim this is a new idea. I get it myself from Schopenhauer, Emerson and Nietzsche who have so much more to say on the subject, and I am sure many others have written about it. But we forget it don’t we, in a world so rational and modern, where we turn a blind eye to the mystery of existence; we twist our whole psyches to do that, and maybe suffer injuries from that contortion – and without that mystery, what value after all is there in art? Distraction-entertainment feels good, art feels elevating.
So I read Jack London when I feel bad.