Art Imitates Life Completely: How Well Does Life Imitate Art?


Metamodern Art: Critique on the Critique: If Art Imitates Life

“If Art imitates Life: Is it fair to ask why society does not critique itself to the degree that Artists critique themselves and the world around them?”

By EJ Wickes
“Art Imitating Life” (above) by Kristine Schomaker

The familiar phrase is “Art imitates Life”. Art does more than imitate life; it often critiques life. And art, in some symbiotic way depends on the critiques and evaluations from life for its own survival and evolution. If we can agree on that, then life or society; in its critique of art is really critiquing the critique of life and not life itself in any existential or personally experiential way. Through digital vehicles and mass media we are taught to experience life. An artist, philosopher or scientist might ask, is there any truth, value or wasted energy in the experience? In this question lies the fate of our future. How well does a society imitate and learn from its art?

Art collectively built the World and we are all individuals within that collective. There are proprietary restrictions designed into any society, but not necessarily its art. The balance of perspectives can shift drastically as we’re beginning to see. Society brings its individual skill sets to Life’s collective table to achieve something bigger than the individual “self”. Individuals also have the unalienable right to choose not to participate. But don’t expect to reap the benefits from a collective society while claiming to be anti-socialist when it pleases you.

Society will always have its delusional artist types who believe that an intelligent and compassionate society can “have it’s cake and eat it too”. I disagree with one particular talking point in Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. I think Ayn Rand being a witness to Bolshevism and her own experiences within the communist state, left her with a deep mistrust of any kind of government intervention. But what about invasive state-capitalism?

Becoming a best selling and controversial author allowed Ayn Rand to achieve yet another skewed view – the successful side of capitalism. Compared to the famine and hardships endured by the Soviet people, they assuredly would consider being an American wage slave a major upgrade. Or as society complacently accepts: The Lesser of Two Evils. The lesser of corrupt party members or capitalists and the lesser of yet shittier fast foods. Another point of contention is that capitalism and socialism are not systems of government. Although a symbiotic relationship exists between economics and government, they are frequently misconstrued as forms of government in structure and purpose.

“Artists realize that they will most likely never make history if they keep repeating history.”

Art imitates life completely and moves on, while life imitates art incompletely. Art rides the tides of anthropology and history in the making. Artists realize that they will most likely never make history if they keep repeating history. Art critiques itself, always pushing for new interpretations and mixes. Society has come to learn very little from its own critique of art, as it finds comfort in repeating its history to an obnoxious degree. Is it fair to ask why society does not critique itself to the degree that artists critique themselves and the world around them? Art never considers itself established in any permanent way; as neither should the political or social systems of any creative and innovative society.

For our artistic narratives to be more relevant to life, we need to be more cognizant of the world around us. Art imitates life by using lies to tell the truth, while politicians use fallacious truths to cover up their lies. Through memes and slogans the economic system has learned how to imitate, commodify and depreciate the value of art and communication more proficiently. Society is just beginning learn how to glean any intrinsic value from it. As in: “Access to the arts is intrinsic or essential to a better quality of life”.

Society or life, IS art! Culture evolves around the frameworks of other evolutionary masterworks. Art is manipulated by the many influences we connect with from other examples; genetics, life experiences and history. In her piece, The False Agency of the Diagetic Self,  Sasha Viasasha makes valid observations on the assumptions of pure originality.

Capitalism is a tool for the commercial society, not some Orwellian device to be used by governments to club their citizens over the head with. It seems we’re left with the choice between the communist state, like the Democratic People’s Republic of [North] Korea, or the neo-capitalist state, like the Democratic People’s Republic of [North] America. Instead of government clubbing society over the head with communism, the United States government is the club that capitalism beats Americans over the head with. Which in similar fashion was how socialism became communism in the Soviet Union. The economic and political systems were pirated and cauterized together.

Capitalism Imitates Art: Culture in Critique

Our mythical ineptitude for graduating students with the proper skills sets for the 21st Century could be a consideration. There is a Holy Trinity to many things. For education if one point is weakened the entire structure fails: Academics make you smarter, athletics make you stronger and the arts make you human. Art imitates life and teaches in many conceptual and constructive ways. Art programming is the weakest, most neglected point in our educational system. To imitate life is to emulate art. To imitate art is to emulate life.

The Millennials, like artists, are responding in their own way to the signs of a society in distress. There are different priorities and paradigms emerging. The “New Romantic” progressives are getting creative with the antiquated, two-dimensional dialectics that have permeated society for generations. It’s almost a revival of classical enlightenment with undertones of a “greener” libertarian/socialism. Millennials hold certain values to be self-evident against a plethora of outdated systems and ideologies. They are the 21st Century’s Bohemian Jet-setters; the Technocratic and Pragmatic Beat Generation.

The most important thing that anyone can do with their mind is to keep it open. New artistic and social experiments are becoming multi-disciplinary. In contrast to society’s redundant need to find refuge in marginalized factions, access to new technologies and collaborations are blurring the lines between all the art genres. This is the creative human capital or shared dignity that we are socially obligated to put into circulation. You cannot gain returns on capital which has been taken out of circulation. Individuals find their own personal gems of wisdom from many philosophical dialectics. Artists, Scientists and Progressives are mixed martial art philosophers, and how their art imitates life is an analysis of it. It becomes a mind expanding experience. They are not bound to the same unilateral “religions” that fuel the economic and political entropy of the so-called “established society”.

Politics Imitates Art: A Progressive Approach

“Metamodernism, as we see, it is not a philosophy. In the same vein, it is not a movement, a programme, an aesthetic register, a visual strategy, or a literary technique or trope. To say that something is a philosophy is to suggest that it is a system of thought. This implies that it is closed, that it has boundaries. It also implies that there is a logic to it. To say that something is a movement, or indeed a programme, suggests that there is a politics to it, a belief as to how our environment should be organised. To propose any one “–ism” as an aesthetic – register, strategy or trope – is to suggest that it is a figure that can be pinned down and picked up from a text or painting and inserted elsewhere. The notion of metamodernism we have proposed is neither of these. It is not a system of thought, nor is it a movement or a trope. For us, it is a structure of feeling.” – Timotheus Vermeulen & Robin van den Akker

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