The Creation of Adam, By Michelangelo, At the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. Source

Realizations: Thou Art The Path

Musings Apr 24, 2022
"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." — Thomas Merton.

Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty in life, we try to find and create beauty and that beauty is art. But beauty is relative; everything depends on the perspective we take to look at.

While the first part of this article focused on gaining an understanding of how the world works through various mathematics and technology (which partially put our minds to rest from a sense of existentialism or boredom), the next one focused on how to deal with this ever-evolving knowledge and how to understand and control emotions with philosophy.

Said Life to Art—"I love thee best‌‌
Not when I find in thee‌‌
My very face and form, expressed‌
‌With dull fidelity, ‌‌But when in thee my craving eyes
‌‌Behold continually‌‌
The mystery of my memories
‌‌And all I long to be."
‌‌‌‌– Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

Since the dawn of man, we have had an advantage over other species because of our ability to create and propagate shared myths over generations and distances using various mediums of art. Art has been and will continue to be the best way to gain a better understanding of the world and to "bear" this existence. The beauty in art is that you don't need to understand how it is made or why it works in order to enjoy it. One such medium that is universally appreciable is music.

Music for the road-trip

"Making a playlist is a delicate art. It's like writing a love letter but better in a way. You get to say what you want to say without actually saying it. You get to use someone else's poetry to express how you feel. And then there are the rules. It's got to be entertaining. You got to tell a story. You can't be too obvious but you can't be too obscure either. You can't double up on songs by the same artist, unless, of course, that's your theme. Anyway, a good compilation, like so many things in life, is hard to do."‌‌
– Rob from the show "High Fidelity"

In classical music, Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major composed by Bach is one of the most beautiful pieces while being a relatively "simple" piece to play. It reminds me of the time I used to ride the local bus to school early in the morning listening to music, while I was wrapped in a dreamy haze passing through The Theosophical Society in Adyar.

Music not only helps us to remember how we felt once but can also save us during examinations. (By humming along to the tune of songs, I was able to recall a lot of rote facts for my exams.)

Albums by musicians such as The Weeknd's "After Hours" tell an overarching tale of one's fight with addiction, pain and loss of falling in and out of love, making the same mistakes in cycles, while Radiohead's "OK Computer" reminds you of stories of how the album was developed, conveying the struggle of the creators.

Music can also be the main subject of a documentary, be used in movies to amplify the narrative, or represent something iconic like the Bond theme. It may be used in a TV series to make a character's presence known. Mostly it is used to evoke visceral emotions of pain, loss, helplessness, depression, or even a sense of upliftment. Lyrics offer another layer of depth and beauty to the work as a whole. All this shows how universally applicable music is. There's a lot more to learn about music - the genres, the history, the artists, their lives, and so much more.

Other mediums

No matter how wonderful music is, it begs to be accompanied by a visual world with its intricately made-up rules and this is where movies, TV shows, and animation comes in. Anything in this sphere influences the generation that experiences and consumes it. In a limited 2-3 hour time frame, good movies convey ideas and emotional experiences. It allows us to feel, empathise, and live the lives of the characters in the stories that we see. This is a topic that deserves its own article and one that will quite likely exist in the future.

As I mentioned in the previous part, every piece of art has a philosophy. Either it was created with a philosophy or expresses a philosophy; we have to just look closely and try to find it.

Regardless of the medium, from movies to music, both the consumption and creation of art is said to be immensely therapeutic.  My opinion is that we should try to understand its innate meaning and influences and attempt to learn more about the history and the individuals who worked on bringing it to life. This knowledge, although not directly useful unless you work in that industry, can be useful for learning about the creator's world and at the very least, in making good conversations.

I'm obviously skipping out on many other mediums, such as novels, manga/comics, and art pieces (like paintings) that explore and express a portion of the artist's or even our collective reality, owing to the fact that this already is a lengthy post and my capacity (or lack thereof) to adequately cover any of those subjects.

To conclude ...‌‌

While all of these "tools" might be from various different domains from what we are accustomed to and are asked to study and prepare for life, I think what we have to realize is that to fully experience life, one must try to be a polymath. We should try to have a childlike curiosity and ask questions regardless of the field of study. What is that? Why is it this way? How does it work? Would this help or hurt someone?

Living like this makes us more open to diverse experiences in life, makes us a bit wiser, and shed our childlike innocence. This makes us into understanding and empathetic adults, which in turn may help us try and come close to an answer as to why we exist and what our purpose here is.

“We choose to go to the Moon,” Kennedy said. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard ...."

As the first part's idea of order and chaos suggests, life is contradictory in nature, and by making mistakes and contradicting ourselves, we learn and probably move to a better state of mind. We should understand that being human is a contradiction-filled experience, so we should try to be understanding of wrong or correct views.

After all, we don't have forever to live. Sometimes, life is filled with emotions of happiness. Most of the time, it is hard, monotonous, filled with grief, pain, and loss. We feel boxed in and have no way to move out, but what we need to realize is that we have to persevere no matter what, with or without the ones we love, with the tools we have made like science, philosophy, art, etc., so it might be bearable and maybe even enjoyable. Finally, try to accept it as it is, before it all suddenly ends.

What it is, is a weird, brilliant, short, and hopefully, fulfilling experience called life.

All views/opinions expressed are the author's musings and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which he has been, is now, or will be affiliated.‌‌
The links in the article/s are the author's recommendations to the readers to motivate them to explore more on the written subject matter and tangents from that.


Joel Marceline

Just your average Joe who enjoys music, movies, technology, and photography.