Philanthropic Art

So in California two (three?) weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a wonderful gentleman about philanthropy and art. Chris McCune walks into the room and points out something about what a philanthropist I am. My knee jerk reaction is that I’m not. I think a lot of people in the world today are idiots and I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that charity work doesn’t make me feel wholesome. Chris shook his head and said, “naw man, you’re a writer–you’re a philanthropist.”

And I had to chew on this for a while. Because I’m not sure he’s wrong. But I’m not sure he’s right either.

I write because I’m thinking, and I have stories that come together, and I’d like to put them down permanently and exercise those stories.

The next level is SHARING what I’m writing, and that is distinct from the writing itself. Why do I share what I write? I share what I write because I want to produce ART.

What then is ART? There’s a quote that I’ve been trying to find, but for the life of me cannot (if anyone can help, that’d be wonderful). But the quote goes something along the lines of the purpose of art being to “settle those unsettled and unsettle those settled.” And I quite take to this. There’s another quote by Georges Braque, “Art disturbs, science reassures.” I like this idea of art being challenging, moving, disturbing, unsettling. It’s part of the reason I’m so taken with the horror genre. There is real art that can be done within.

Now the question then is whether or not THAT is something that helps people: whether or not the purpose of ART, if that’s one way to define it, as disturbing, is helpful? Because that can have very negative results. You unsettle someone and they might jump off a bridge.

So the question remains whether or not the act of SHARING a piece of ART is inherently philanthropic.

What do you think?

 

Edit to add:

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One thought on “Philanthropic Art

  1. Robynn Fried says:

    Writers provide a way for the general public to escape their own lives, and live through the words that are written in their chosen genre. Genre doesn’t really go into play, as most people choose which they want to read today, for specific reasons. As writers, you are merely providing the place of chosen escape, the route, so to speak. Whether it’s into crime stories, or horror, or mystery is up to me, depending on what kind of day I’ve had, or week. Having that choice to go somewhere in my head, with the help of someone who can put into words what I cannot, is an incredible help for those of us who use reading as an escape.
    In essence, reading is my crack, and authors are my dealers. Only you won’t find me selling myself on the street corner, or living under a bridge, to support my addiction. So, I would absolutely say, yes, you are a philanthropist.

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