I called this blog “Art vs. Entropy” because I have been thinking a lot lately about the meaning and purpose of art. Is what I do for life worth anything? Does anyone even need it? What is the use of what I do? Such questions come to my mind from time to time. Still, especially now in this challenging period, when the basic needs of many people are in danger of not being met, it gets harder to work as a person that just makes pretty pictures.
A certain someone told us that we all should “make good art” – but what art is “good”? And if there is such a thing as “good” art, then there has to also be art that does not fall into this category. What is the difference?
I don’t know when I started to visualize making art like this (it seems to have happened a few years ago) – I think about making art as of fighting on a vast battlefield. And to be more specific, an encirclement where everyone is trying to push back an encompassing force. To my left and right, I see artists fighting, light flashes, dust rises, there are shouts and screams, but the fight never stops, because the force that is attacking, never weakens. I call this force the Entropy because, so far, this is the closest word I found for what I’m thinking of.
I think of that Entropy as a force that negates everything. On a cosmic scale, all the stars will eventually fall to it, burning out or exploding. And when the last of black holes die through giving off Hawking Radiation, everything will be still. There will be no energy left. The Entropy will win.
This may seem inevitable and too huge to even think about, but Entropy also works on a very small, everyday scale. It’s the force that prevents you from getting up early or having a healthy run, making the thing that you always wanted to do seem hard and challenging, and so somehow you can’t find the time. It’s the force that makes you take the decision that’s worse for everyone but requires less energy – because Entropy is the opposite – it kills and disperses all energy, and grows stronger while doing it.
Can we fight it? I think, yes, we have been doing it for a long time. One of our weapons is art. Another one is the stories we tell. The biggest one is probably love. Though these might be just parts of the same thing.
Art is one of our creations that can have a positive energy potential – a work of “good” art can create more energy in the people it inspires and motivates than it took to create it. This makes art something impossible in the eyes of physics, but this is just a metaphor, after all.
So, when we stand on the battlefield, facing the everlasting, freezing storm that is Entropy, what will we do?
Some artists do not notice the Entropy nor the battlefield. They don’t feel the cold embrace of heat-death and make art guided by what feels good and valuable. They follow their passion in a pure way. Perhaps they will someday see the battlefield or maybe not. Either way, not everyone has to fight.
Unfortunately, some creators don’t care what influence on everyone will their art have, even though they know that what they do might be helping the Entropy. They look at things like money, likes, followers, or power and do what feels most easy to get them. They don’t care if their art steals time and energy from their audience. The most important thing is that they are on top and feeling good.
And, finally, there are these artists that are aware of their influence. They know about the battlefield and what the enemy is. They had maybe a moment in their lives when they came in contact with the Entropy somehow and know how terrible it is. They try to make art in such a way that makes the lives of their audience better, more prosperous, and filled with more energy and inspiration. If you ever had a moment when a movie made you feel like everything is going to be all right, or a song made you cry all your grief out, a book allowed you to find the strength that you didn’t know you had, or a picture showed you some of the beauty of this world – you have met some of their works. I know I had.
In this time of turmoil, when it’s easy to start thinking that nothing we do “really matters,” let us realize that it’s just the Entropy trying to get us down. In such moments, or when trying to choose what to create, imagine the battlefield, with all the artists that once fought or are still fighting to keep the cold and apathy away. I like to ask myself if what I’m doing will help the cause and try to do art that takes me in this direction.
Maybe, to do something meaningful, we will have to get close to the frontline – this can be dangerous – but the cold wind of Entropy on our faces will feel good when we toil to push it back!