Art Imitates and Instructs

Yin Yang Tree

In a two-sided manner, artists imitate life while presenting a moral or aesthetic message. (Image: public domain.)

The Two Aspects of Art

Art has a dual role: to imitate life and to instruct. Nowhere in art is this duality more important than in the art of writing. Words can tackle complex issues in ways that painting, sculpting, or dance, simply cannot. This is not to suggest other art forms have nothing to say. It is just that writing goes beyond the brilliant snapshots of painting and sculpture, however perceptive, suggestive, and evocative they may be, and can pack more into a couple of hours exposure than any ballet or modern dance performance. Words transcend emotion, beauty, and grace to tackle the difficult worlds of abstract ideas and morality.

Does this seem beyond the concern of genre writers who may be working in, for example, the science fiction or fantasy categories? It simply is not so. As I have pointed out in my earlier post, “Indie Writers Are Artists Too,” even the most genre-oriented writers need to understand that everything they write has a message, even if they are unaware of what that message is. Good writers – good artists – take charge of their message to make sure their work says something they believe in.

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Indie Writers Are Artists Too

Brian S. Pratt

Fantasy author Brian S. Pratt is an excellent example of an indie writer who has achieved remarkable success.

All writing is a kind of art. The most popular forms (fantasy, for instance, or horror and vampire novels) are examples of folk art. They are to literature what country music is to classical. (That is, unless you happen to be Bram Stoker!) Indie writers can be rough around the edges, but they are artists nonetheless. If you are an indie, seeing yourself as an artist can help you take yourself – and your work – more seriously. Writers who take themselves seriously become better writers.

Writing about art has always been a popular pastime for artists of every kind, and a few philosophers as well. Younger indies, however, may not yet have seen much of this, so I will put a few choice tidbits on the table.

Tolstoy writes, “The business of art lies in just this, – to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible…” For writers, this means the dramatizations of fiction can make clear what real life discussion, or even the carefully worded arguments of non-fiction, cannot. Fiction can arouse our emotions in just the right way to drive the point home.

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