I used to enjoy art at school. I must confess that I could never have claimed to be good at it but then by modern standards I could have been considered the producer of master pieces.
Even today as a middle-aged man I like to do the odd doodle, visit art galleries, buy nice prints when I can and so on. I even have Lempika’s iconic picture ‘The Woman in The Green Dress’ tattooed on my upper left arm. I’ve probably had it for about 8 years now and I still look at it with a sense of pride.
But what is art?
Well this is actually difficult to pin down. There are loose explanations around that still don’t make it clear.
I have often visited galleries, art shops or exhibitions and asked myself ‘how on earth did this ever get past the critic?’ Furthermore, how can a piece I consider to be poor demand such a high price when my GCSE masterpiece only made me a ‘B’?
When I do see something I consider to be ‘poor’ I develop a nagging concern that I am not educated or qualified enough to evaluate the work and so be unable to justify its worth. Of course, we all know that the interpretation of art is subjective, and this is why I cannot identify what is good art.
Denying questions is ignorance
The idea that the artist defines the artwork reduces the viewer’s involvement with the artwork and eroded the authority of the viewer’s perspective. In this belief system, the artist has the ultimate trump card: “you don’t understand.” Therefore, the conversation is over, the viewer hushed and finally shamed into silence.
In my view life is a subjective experience. And yet, we still trust in the ability of people to evaluate and share their perceptions in journalism, history, law, science and so on. It is the responsibility of the artist, the scientist, the lawyer (including the police and CPS) and the historian to convey an individual’s window on the world. Art is not a one-sided conversation, and it doesn’t help to continue acting like it is.
The art of words
If a piece of art genuinely moves only one person, it is still good art. The same can be applied to the art of conversation or the ability to write. If it moves many people, it might be great art. If it moves you only because you think that it ought to, then it is time to start thinking about why. This does involve an element of expectation of self-awareness and belief in the ability to people to be confident in their own perspectives. At the very least, it requires thoughtfulness.
So how does this fit here?
I have loosely touch upon this when I suggested that the art of conversation is still an art.
When I studied A level Law many years ago a key statement my tutor made was that ‘the law and its principles is open to interpretation’. The art is being able to understand, decipher and communicate back.
It is not an art to ridcule
Unlike the ‘expert’ artist, I feel it is immoral, wrong and dangerous to ridicule someone’s interpretation of what has been said or implied.
Like so many victims I have met the process of recovery is not just living day to day but to be listened to. The art for the listener is to pay attention, interpret and attempt to understand. It is not their role to criticise, ridicule or use it for harm.
Wittgenstein and the limitation of words
For many people (or survivors) their words are restricted by the Wittgenstein principle.
Wittgenstein’s work (Tractatus) considered the relationship between language and the world. He argued that the logical structure of language provides the limits of meaning. The limits of language, for Wittgenstein, are the limits of thought or the sharing of ideas or principle (aka philosophy).
There just doesn’t seem to be any logic
When I reflect on capabilities, why are footballers (or soccer to my American readers) paid massive sums of money to just kick a piece of leather around. Yet my Ambulance colleagues, who save lives on a regular basis, have to threaten strike action just to keep up with the cost of living? How is the value of their skills measured correctly? Is saving a life less of an art than kicking a ball?
I recently endured a series of programmes that awarded celebrities for being, well – celebrities. I witnessed how the artists were categorized and judged. In my view the winners were imposed upon the audience (who are very often culture obsessed) with deciding who is worthy and who is not. We watch people walk down the red carpet and listen to commentators judge their appearances and beauty.
I once fell into a similar trap many years ago. I was watching some award programme for authors and their books. The programme raved and shouted loudly about how brilliant a certain book was. Well with that kind of praise I rushed out the following day and bought a copy. Well, it was without doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read. To be honest with you I never finished it. As a result I have learnt to ignore these so called experts and develop my own thoughts and considerations about what I perceive to be right or good.
How is being quiet an art?
The art of being quiet is to allow the talker to create their own problems. These past few months I have come into contact with so many so called ‘professionals’.
During these many conversations I witnessed their art is one of self-indulgence and above all arrogance. Many of these talkers have spouted false statistics believing them to be gospel or as flawless facts. Yet, when challenged they see it as a personal attack and treat it as such. If a true believer has faith in what they have to say then they shouldn’t have to revert to personal attacks.
Just sit back and watch it all happen
The art of being quiet is to sit back and watch them dig themselves deeper. To give this an example, I have recently dealt with the CPS about how they consider every case on a case by case basis. I asked them to supply policies and precedence to show this. To begin with i did not question or criticise their statements. I didn’t need to because by their own words I found so many contradictions that it has now become impossible to ignore.
If you recall I used this same principle with social services which resulted in the sacking of one of their own.
I have discovered that if you remain quiet and let the fakers continue to talk they eventually get caught up in their own contradictions. Their ultimate shame is shown when they cannot criticise you anymore due to the recognition that they have been caught out.
He or she who shouts the loudest has the most to hide
Maybe the reason the abusers continue to talk when they know they are being caught out sheds light on a deeper human truth. Perhaps they overstate their arguments and lie to fill a void of unworthiness. Maybe we need to define abusers as the “other,” the lesser, the unworthy because we know following our own experiences that there is a definitive right and wrong, good and bad, and very often the weaker listeners fall on the latter side to believe the one shouting the loudest.
By definition, and my personal belief, the art of being quiet is just the ability to let the wrong doers express their interpretations wrongly. Often it warrants a greatness and appreciation for the beauty of staying quiet and buying your time rather than lowering yourself to their level resulting in a public argument. This allows you to own the power of their own downfall, either for the fake accusers, their departments or the subsequent offenders and abusers.
Remaining quiet does not feed their flames – They do it themselves
The art of staying quiet is the ability to step back and buy yourself some time whilst the accusers and their supporters dig their own graves. The real skill is to buy your time and choosing your moment correctly rather than feed their ego by counter arguing. Of course, it feels right to defend yourself the instant an accusation has been made. But if the abuser continues upon their own path to destruction it rewards you by witnessing the creation of their own endings.