The statement that most provoked me most forcefully from the questionnaire was, “What counts as art, or good art, or beautiful, is a subjective matter of one’s own preferences.” I decided to ‘strongly disagree’ with the statement. If the statement were true, then art and beauty would cease to exist, their value tantamount to refuse. Art, and good art especially, is a reflection of the artist’s lived experiences and trauma. This truth is where many decide to stop their analysis of the nature of art, and simply declare that because art is created subjectively and individually, art itself must be subjective. I reject this truncated and banal conception of art. Great art is made in the hopeless struggle by man to understand and combat the ever-shifting dynamo of the natural world. Great art is an attempt to bring order to the chaos of life. The creation of great art is a deeply personal and challenging experience for an artist. The artist creates his art as a projection, as a way to save himself. Whether he knows it or not, this struggle for order and understanding against the endless flux of nature and its endless apocalypse is a struggle that sometimes reaches the realm of the beautiful. What is beautiful, much like what is art, is not decided by the subjective whims of man. What is beautiful is that which reflects the immortal and the beloved and the divine. Beauty is when man’s attempt to combat nature ends up becoming it. There is beauty in the primordial sludge that is nature. To simply believe that what is beautiful is what you deem to be beautiful, is selfish and ignorant. There is a part of everyone’s mind and heart that deep down is able to recognize the objective realm of the beautiful. Without believing in Beauty, art is drained of meaning. This draining of meaning is similar to the modern crisis of sex.
Sex has been cut and drained of its lifeblood, eroticism. Sex has been reduced to the act, divorced from the metaphysical realm of erotic love. It could be said that sex has been reduced to the realm of the subjective. Really, the core of my gripe with the application of subjectivity to art and beauty is that it removes the grandeur and drama from art. Art without suffering isn’t art. If any fool could create something and proclaim it to be art, there would be no art. The same goes for the ability of anybody to decide for themselves what constitutes art. While this is of great personal utility, ultimately, it kills all motivation. If great art is subjective then why try and create great art? Beauty is a realm, an unchanging set of feelings and waves that can only be glimpsed through the wonders of the world and the triumph of great art.