Everything is connected – everything – and art and life bob and weave in a wild dance together in that great amalgamation of all that is. So who influences whom in this interplay? Over 100 years ago, Oscar Wilde wrote “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”. Yet, if you stop to think about it, it’s easy to see how art influences life and then our lives influence our arts – on and on in a continuous circle such that if we try to say “life imitates art” we stop briefly and ask ourselves “is that how that quote goes?”. Go Google the phrase and some of the top search returns are asking that same very question.
Case in point – many of our TV programs, movies and video games contain excessive violence. Sometimes I wonder how we might be getting acclimated to violence based on our continuous exposure to it by these arts. There have been studies showing that the viewing of violence programs correlates to a degree in higher violence by the viewers. Yet, the producers may say they are only making art forms which mirror back the reality of the world. And, there is a supply and demand aspect to the arts – the producers give us what we buy. Obviously we have a chicken and egg scenario, and it’s hard to determine which came first.
Question really becomes how are we going to break this cycle? If what we look at grows in our lives – and I believe that it does – then the more we look at violence, the more we are going to see it – whether in our arts or in our lives.
Film critic Peter Rainer recently wrote about a new trend in movies – stories that he described as being a “metaphysical mumbo-jumbo gumbo”, films charged with an “otherworldly dread” linked to attempts to make sense of life. Sometimes the dread is linked to catastrophic events such as in the movies “Contagion” or “Take Shelter”. Sometimes the source of the dread is less clearly focused but plays more of a background role as the characters attempt to change “reality” and in Rainer’s words, “make it all turn out right this time.” Films such as “The Adjustment Bureau”, “In Time” and “Source Code” fall into this interesting genre.
So are these movies feeding back to us a sort of barometer of our cultural consciousness? Have the producers tapped into a 21st century post-9/11 malaise and are mirroring it back to us? Is there really an underlying generalized sense of dread within us coupled with a desire to somehow change how the world turns out? Or – are these movies presenting us a state of consciousness that we are now creating within ourselves? Do you have an opinion on this? Feel free to leave a comment if you do.
Of course, again, does it really matter which came first and caused the other? Is it another cycle of life imitating art imitating life imitating art? Yes.
So how do we break the cycle of dread and dissatisfaction and melancholy feeding a sense that the world has somehow gone awry and we are powerless to change it question it? As long as we continue to focus our attention on our displeasure over the state of the world, the more we will see worldly events reinforcing our sense of displeasure.
We need a new cycle of art and life. Our lives and our arts need to dance a new dance – one of love and peace and acceptance where we value one another. Violence dissipates in that whirling pattern of care and concern. Our lives and arts need to twirl in the energy of hope and personal assurance that things are always getting better. Life is truly good. May your life imitate that goodness until the imitation becomes the reality everywhere.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!