Issue #131 / January 2021
This world is shit.
TOM, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA
Is shitty art worth making?
LEAH, YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN, USA
Dear Tom and Leah,
The Bible opens with the story of the creation —
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The story tells us that God thought His creation to be ‘very good’. I have to say, I very much agree — the world is not only very good, it is perfect — so wholly perfect that it has the capacity to hold within it profoundly imperfect things. It is a masterpiece folded around an essential and energising flaw — our humanity.
As for shitty art, all art is perfectly imperfect — like the world itself — and to some extent value judgments on art are largely subjective and beside the point. Creating art is about growing the world and increasing its reach, and it has more to do with the act of creation itself than what is actually made. Anything that animates us creatively in a positive way — be it the grand design of a great architectural wonder or the Big Bang of a child’s drawing — is a re-enactment of the original creation story. Whether we realise it or not, making art is a religious encounter as it is our attempts to grow beyond ourselves that energise the soul of the universe.
I’m just walking back from work, thinking about your questions. It is late and the night is dark and wet and the deserted streets shimmer in the rain. Saint Mary Abbots rises up before me, empty and eerie, its floodlit spire reaching into the sky. There is an insistent and loving space between all things and it is suddenly a perfect moment — a perfect moment nested in a shared human catastrophe — but perfect all the same.