Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The question is what makes good literature? A lot of people might find Sidney Sheldon, Archer or Stephen king comprehensible as compared to Joyce, Woolf or even Shakespeare, but why then do we call the latter good literature and not the former? This applies to all art forms like Indian classical dance, music and so on. The ubiquitous nature of art makes it accessible to all but its intensity or depth draws only a specific audience. The fact that art is ubiquitous makes people feel that all can assimilate it, but when it immerses itself in a philosophical quest, which it usually does, it distances its audiences. The fact that it seems accessible to all leads to its corruption, corruption by so-called popular forms. A lot of the above questions will be answered if one considers art as a discipline like science or mathematics and as accessible to only those who study it. For the rest it will remain entertainment and therefore will be drawn only to what we call pop culture. It is essential now to look into the details of this discipline and also the reason for emergence of such questions when it concerns field of humanities, art in specific and not when it concerns the field of science or technology.

It is not possible for a student with a graduation degree in the field of humanities to pursue further degrees in science but the converse of it is valid. This reveals the treatment meted to humanities as a discipline. Further people are dissuaded from pursuing humanities due to a lack of incentives from the Government. A closer look at the Indian education system reveals that the number of exams available to an enthusiast in humanities is nil when compared with the umptene opportunities available to an enthusiast in science in the form of BTS and MTS exams (w.r.t Maharashtra) and olympiads. When it has been thrusted upon the society that pursuing humanities means leading an inane life, there will be an obvious decline in true enthusiasts pursuing the field of humanities due to societal biases. This also leads to a lot of people taking humanities for granted and not ascribing it with the fact that it is in fact a discipline all by itself.

With this as the reference point one delves deeper into the contamination of art and the reason for the emergence of questions regarding its existence. As art (literature, dance etc.) seems like a hobby than a discipline, it is considered to be inferior to pursuing a career in science or technology. Therefore it ends up as a side-kick than a main actor, a position that it definitely does not deserve. One can therefore conclude that art is a discipline and not a hobby, it involves an in-depth study of History, Psychology, Sociology and knowledge of advancement in science and technology and its effect on humankind. A student of art, who studies art therefore comes with an interest in all these disciplines but a narrow view like that of the sciences is definitely not suitable for its study.

It is unfortunate that people who systematise education refuse to see its significance and therefore do not allot any means to propel its application in terms of employment other than in the field of education. It is therefore unfair to expect laypersons to understand this discipline or even admit them to pursue it without a relevant background. This will only lead to the dumbing down of its status as a discipline, and make it more of a path that accomodates all. One has to conclude that the reason for these questions is a result of the treatment of art by society or by governements in power and their inability to acknowledge it as a discipline.

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