14 June 2007

a word without boundaries

I've read a few standardized attempts, but I've not yet found any good definition of the word "art". It seems to be a word, used as a filler, for describing a ranging breadth of responses one might have after experiencing a creative stimulus. That's not my attempt at a definition, by the way.

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote, failingly, in a decision that did not precisely define obscenity: ". . . I know it when I see it." Ironic. In that particular instance, Stewart's comment was meant to set a standard for distinguishing obsenity from art. I don't care about the obscenity question, but I now apply Stewart's same standard to defining "art".

I was rocked by the first chapter of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five when I read it last night. Stylistically, I felt as if I were experiencing a revolution. The end product was so effortlessly presented, so efficient.

Being taken unexpectedly by one's response to an object of artistic expression is, for me, an uncommon experience, and exhilarating. Particularly written works, because I sense in them an enviable skill of taking letters, forming words, each common to us all, and evoking such rare sensations.

I can't wait to read more. I hope the experience is sustaining. But even if it isn't, I'm glad that nearly 40 years after he wrote the book (and over 60 years since he experienced Dresden), there are no boundaries to limit the effects of Vonnegut's "art".

1 comment:

Supercords said...

Lend me your copy when you finish. I should have read this years ago, but I didn't.