Friday Flashback: Art as Story

Kate Bush

Above, artwork from Kate Bush CD A Sky of Honey, via Andrew Campbell and below, Andrew’s own representation of Now Time

lightening branches by Andrew Campbell

In January of last year, I wrote an article about how artists tell stories, sometimes about things that words cannot convey. More profoundly than scientists, they hold up for us reflections of the truth about complexity, about nature, and human nature, about all-life-on-Earth, and about our attempts to understand it. I concluded the article as follows:

Just as we must bear the responsibility for making this world as bearable a place as possible, a little bit better each day, despite knowing that our civilization is unraveling and that what we have done will be undone (though hopefully remembered by the few brave survivors of this century), we must, too, bear the responsibility for telling our stories despite knowing that few are listening and even fewer understand. This is nothing new.

And so, we brave storytellers, each in our own way, continue to tell our stories as best we can, perhaps much as the cave artists did in the millennia before civilization, as the indigenous peoples did during the millennia of civilizationís hopeful dawn, and as the artists of the renaissances of our civilization did as that civilization churned forwards.

We, artists all — painters, composers of music, sculptors, investigative journalists and many others — represent to the world the portrait of our civilizationís fourth and final turning. We ‘just’ tell its story. Whether its meaning will be understood and provoke needed action is not our business.

Perhaps those who survive civilizationís end, and build a more joyful and sustainable society, will have the time and energy to appreciate what we do. And learn from the self-confessed mistakes that cry out in ourportrayal of our terrible world, and its terrible beauty.

Read the whole article.

Category: The Arts
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1 Response to Friday Flashback: Art as Story

  1. Yes. The way we see the future is the same as the way we see the past, because it is bounded by the same set of possibilities, in the present.That said…Again, you mention civilization’s end. And, it got me to thinking: would we be losing anything we actually value?What does it *mean* to say “civilization’s end?” No more highways, no more skyscrapers, no more grocery stores?What do we lose with the end of civilization?

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