For many people in our culture, it is so much more fun and satisfying to watch television than it is to read a book, even though it is just as common for people in our culture to refer to books as being better than their cinematic recreations. Since these two statements do not exactly jive, though exist simultaneously, they either represent two distinct populations of people or a curious blending of contradictory premises.
Book and movies are both forms of art because they express a vision with the intent of transposing the artist's reality, even if only momentary. Hence, both convey meaning. When dealing with conveying meaning though, if we become too comfortable with our way of doing it, we become stagnant to our familiar and comfortable direction of conveyance. In other words, when thinking about art, it is commonly accepted--and thereby, expected--to think about it in terms of how the particular medium presents itself to us. Essentially, this an attitude of reception; an embodiment of a surveillance camera attached to a life-support system. Granted, when dealing with art, we will in some way need to think about what it presents to our senses, but that is only one part of the conveyance of meaning. A lot more goes into understanding and engaging meaning, so accordingly, much more goes into understanding and engaging art.
Hence, art is a lot more intellectual than we may be led to believe.
If we make a practice of thinking with our mind rather than with our emotions, then we will discover what deliberate and latent filters we apply to the reality we engage. Filters are the principles and guidelines that our thoughts and behaviors. Humans operate via filters all the time, though not all filters are determined by the individual because social influences are plentiful. Still, from traffic, to relationships, to bills, to athletic activities, to art, filters determine what to do, when to do it, who it will affect and effect, and if we want to repeat it. Filters are thus elemental things that determine how we function because they provide order and organization for whatever stimuli we run across. If we establish clear, consistent filters for the information and knowledge we experience and process, then that very information and knowledge becomes compared and contrasted to the end of reconciliation, instead of enabled to exist compartmentalized and hypocritical. (This is one way of explaining self-judgment.)
So why should we care? Because expanding and honing our filters allows us to experience reality more fully instead of merely perceive it. Placing art back into the equation, if we choose to experience art rather than merely perceive it, we can reveal more than just the artistic vision presenting itself to our senses, but the very filters we use to understand it. And since art is all about experiencing meaning more fully rather than more limited, intellectually embracing art is an excellent way to increase the breadth of one's perspective if they are unpracticed at balancing intellect and emotion.
So how exactly do we practice experiencing things rather than merely perceiving them, or in other words, understand and strengthen our filters? Well, we can do three things: 1) Ask ourselves what qualifiers we are applying to the things we perceive, 2) Identify the multiplicity of effects, and 3) Ask yourself why at this one moment we chose to do the thing(s) we did.
First, asking ourselves what qualifiers we are applying essentially exposes our thinking through the language we use. When we have conviction for something, we feel and think of it as being true, however, our inner reality--whether it be our thoughts or emotions--relies on language to bridge the gap between our inner world and outer reality. Our language is built upon symbols and ideals that have meaning built into them, so regardless if we believe a certain way, if we use nuances, cliche's, adages and clauses that inherently indicate an ulterior (or variant) meaning, then we unknowingly have condoned and preserved that original meaning, which can obscure the meaning of our transmissions that we think is so clear. Hence, dissecting the very language we use, rather than relying on our loud-and-immediate thoughts and emotions, will expose the raw and latent inner workings of who we are as an individual, helping us refine our meanings.
Second, identifying a multiplicity of effects makes us search for things that are uncomfortable or not obvious. Driving toward a wider breadth of effects liberates a perspective that is limited to a predetermined (comfortable) reward system, which is a type of reward system that causes a stubbornness to change or an addiction to familiarity. Everything we do sets of a chain reaction of effects, some of which we can predict, some of which we cannot. Point is, this chain reaction of diverse effects is as natural as weather, which is interesting in-and-of itself because weather is a system of causes and effects within the natural world. Identifying a multiplicity of effects is simply becoming a storm-tracker to our own lives, searching around to discover, order and label things, to learn what led to what, and figure out what we can and cannot control.
Third, asking ourselves why we did that specific thing in an event helps us stop enabling ourselves, or engaging in the addiction to familiarity I mentioned in the previous paragraph. This type of questioning grinds the gears of a mental transmission that is subjective because it prevents blind, feel-good momentum from acting for us. Thus, when we stick to what we know, and feel-good momentum, we place ourselves in the center of the perceptive process, rather than include ourselves in the larger, more naturally networked process. This may seems like nit-picking, but it actually represents the seeding of the subjective perspective and the objective perspective: A subjective perspective makes our ego the primary filter of operation, and an objective perspective makes larger reality and the breadth/multiplicity of effects the primary filter of operation.
If we endeavor upon a more objective path, as I stated before, more options, opportunities, and variables will avail themselves to us. And since objectivity is (by definition and distinction) not subjective, our self is not the criteria reality must immediately fall in alignment to, nor is it the test reality must pass to be validated or legitimized at any rate. This all boils down to us being more aware of the breadth of reality, earning us the capability to bring the variables introduced to our perception into alignment. Not a predetermined alignment, but an alignment produced by the extensive body of evidence uncovered. (This is another way of explaining self-judgment).
Meaning thus pertains to our engagement and interaction with the extensive body of effects and entities that comprise our world. If we have issues understanding or reconciling our world, or if we make blithely hypocritical statements, then our statements or opinions about the world (or in this discussion, art) are not a testament to a broken system or nebulous concept as much as they are a testament to our lack understanding and honing the filters we use or inherently cling to. Viewing our mental filters as adaptable, and ourselves as participants in a much, much larger reality will allow us to embrace change, but more importantly, to see what is out of whack in our own lives and how to bring it into order and make it more consistent. It is at that point that we will rarely make contradictory statements about art (or much else), and just as importantly, be able to identify them when others make them.
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