What is art? an excerpt from "A Tale for the Time Being"

    This blog has, from time to time, has asked the question, "What is art?" so when I read this part of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, I thought I would share it with you. The fictional version of the author is married to an artist,

    "He was the least egotistical man she'd ever met, nor was he particularly ambitious. His land art projects, like the Means of Production, he deemed successful only when he himself had disappeared from them.
    "I want viewers to forget about me."
    "Why?" she asked. "Don't you want credit for your work?"
    "That's not the point. It's not about any system of credit. It's not about the art market. The work succeeds when all the cleverness and artifice have disappeared, after years of harvest and regrowth, when people begin to experience it as ambiance. Any residual auto of me as artist or horticultural dramaturge will have faded. It will no longer matter. That's when the work gets interesting."
    "Interesting, how?"
    "It becomes more than 'art.' It becomes part of the optical subconscious. Change has occurred. It's the new normal, just the way things are."
    By his own measure, then, his work was successful, but the more successful he became, the more difficult he found it to make a living.
    "I'll never be a captain of industry," he said, ruefully, one night when they were looking over their finances and trying to figure out how they would pay their bills. "I feel like such a loser."
    "Don't be ridiculous," she said. "If I'd wanted a captain of industry, I would have married one."
    He shook his head, sadly. "You picked a lemon in the garden of love."  (P. 297-298)

And I have to say, also: READ THIS BOOK. Or listen to it. The audio book is read by the author with singing and expression and chanting and loveliness. It seems weird at first, but go with it. It questions the nature of reality, and somehow does it in a believable way. And it surprised me. So few books really surprise me anymore.

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