"The object of art is to give life a shape."
What is your worldview?
We all have a worldview - a way of looking at and understanding the world. It will vary from country to country and in different cultures. This way of thinking is formed by such things as our education, experiences, culture, and family.
Everything we see and hear has to get past our worldview, to reach our minds and hearts. And much of it will build up and strengthen our own worldview.
Is there a single worldview throughout the world?
No, but with communications, travel, films, and books, viewpoints are becoming more similar in different countries. We can call it the 'spirit of the age', 'the mood of the times', or sometimes you may hear it named the 'zeitgeist' - a German word. How would you describe the 'spirit of the age', as we approach the year 2000?
What the arts tell us
Our worldview comes to us by those in our society who think - writers, artists, TV and film producers. They are selling us their view of the world in all they do.
A noted philosopher Francis Schaeffer, has analysed how thought changed over the last 150 years. He has shown how over a short period in the 19th century, the worldview in the arts switched. This changeover between two ways of thinking is vital to our understanding of the arts. He called the point at which the view changed 'the line of despair'.
The line of despair
Before that time, most artists and thinkers, had a similar view. Although many did not observe a religion, they did believe that there was purpose and meaning in the world. They believed in absolutes, of good and evil, beauty and joy. They believed that the world was created, and that people belonged in it. Paintings and music, stories and architecture (building design) reflected this. There was harmony and beauty in pictures and musical works. Evil and ugliness might be shown, but usually good was winning.
After the 'line of despair', there came a different view. No longer did the world have a reason to exist. There were no standards. Absolute good and evil no longer had meaning. People could choose to do whatever they wanted. God was seen to be 'dead'. He was not needed any more. Paintings and music were often ugly, with no harmony. Evil was shown more often than good. Buildings were often strange, impersonal things that people no longer seemed to belong in.
The best music and paintings
Consider - when were the world's most famous paintings produced. When was the most popular classical music composed? Not in this century! Although there are more people with education and talent in this century, their work is different. It comes after the line of despair, and it is so often empty, negative, without meaning.
The meaning is - there is no meaning
The same is true of many 20th century plays. For instance, the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett wrote a strange play WAITING FOR GODOT. For years, people worked to consider the message of the play. They put forward detailed ideas of its meaning. Then Beckett admitted, there was no meaning. There were no hidden messages.
And what is the most influential section of the arts today? TV and film. What are they selling to us? Usually, a view of the world which says, 'nothing means anything, but grab what you can, do what you like, put yourself first!'
We are being sold what is sometimes called in Britain, a 'pig in a poke'. A no-good deal. Do we have to buy it? Is there an alternative? What do you think?