Watch these two videos and read the text below.
Respond in no more than 300 words:
- How are the videos and the article related?
- According to the Aesthetics: What Is It Good For? video – what are some functions of art? According to Aristotle, what is catharsis?
- What are the views of autonomists? What are the views of aesthetic moralists?
- Define some of the ways that art adds value to life, and discuss a few of the various ways that creativity has positively shaped society.
Woodrow Tatlock, in his sixties, manager of his town’s only hardware store, was what we might call a literalist, a person who lives in and responds to the immediate reality. Tatlock was not inclined to read, ponder questions and issues, or engage in discussions that pertain to more than what has happened to him in the course of a day. On rare occasions, such as the night before a national election, he might have talked to others about who would make the better president, but his opinions were usually borrowed uncritically from a television authority.
Tatlock was a good, law-abiding citizen, bearing no conscious malice toward others, although certain biases concerning race and gender were bound to pop up to the surface from time to time, but he never saw them. Although unconscious prejudice – remarks dropped here and there, assumptions voiced but never analyzed – can do widespread harm in society as a whole, Tatlock’s narrow existence hurt mainly Tatlock. He could have done more with his life but chose not to, or perhaps he never knew how. At any rate, after the unexpected death of his wife on the eve of Tatlock’s retirement banquet, he could not understand why he was never happy.
His son and daughter-in-law invited him to join them for a vacation in New York. He had never been to a big city before, but instead of being impressed with the architectural variety, he complained that there was too much walking. The son suggested, “In that case, let’s go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every gallery has comfortable benches to sit on.”
The son and his wife were excited at seeing the originals of so many works they knew only from postcards. Tatlock rested frequently while the others moved from painting to painting, sculpture to sculpture, absorbing the description of each one, learning more about art than they ever thought possible. Tatlock said that there was just too much to see.
At length they came to the Asian Wing, where he once again had to sit down. The others found themselves drawn to a sculpture called Seven Sided Stone: Water Stone, and the attached description told them that the artist was Isamu Noguchi. The sculpture was a gray stone fountain with a perpetual flow of water that seemed to be a sheet of clear glass sitting motionless on top but, in reality, trickled ever so slowly down the side so that the escaping water equaled the new supply being pumped up from below. The trickle of water created a hypnotic sound that could only be described as esthetic. A visitor who joined the son and his wife pointed out that the sound of the water clears the mind of its inner chatter and those who sit there long enough can lose all sense of anxiety. He said that he came to this quiet corner of the Asian Wing whenever he needed simply to sit and be entranced by the water. He said that few ever joined him on the bench.
Tatlock’s immediate reality was not likely to be changed by the Seven Sided Stone: Water Stone. He would have thought that it was economically unproductive. Later, he would ask his companions what “those artists” could have been worth. “Probably not much,” he added. His son took him to the gallery in which some of Vincent van Gogh’s works were displayed and pointed out that, although the paintings brought the artist no money in his lifetime, many of them now sold for many millions of dollars. Did the price, though, indicate what the artist was worth? “Now it does,” replied Tatlock. To him, people, alive or dead, were worth the equity they had accumulated. Woe to the wretch who reached the age of sixty-five and had “nothing to show for it,” meaning no bank accounts of significance, no investments, no property, no collection of durable goods.
Mrs. Tatlock had hoped that after Tatlock retired, they would travel, visit art galleries, go to the opera and the symphony, and perhaps buy a few glass figurines to place on a mirrored shelf with tiny lights on top, causing them to sparkle. Instead, Tatlock, now a widower, went fishing every morning, never looking up to see the sun rising over the bay, the ripples on the water made by the soft breeze, a family of ducklings gliding serenely in a perfectly straight line behind their mother, or the shimmering colors of the graceful fish in which he had little interest except as food for the table or exaggerated stories about the “big one that got away.”
On his deathbed he is reported to have murmured that he was sorry for all his missed opportunities. His son and daughter thought he was talking about the life Mrs. Tatlock had dreamed for both of them. The son, however, holding his hand in sympathy, heard him whisper, “Not to have owned a chain of stores!”
A story that no one knows (but us) is that one night when Mrs. Tatlock was still living, her husband was lying in bed, eyes wide open, perspiration glistening on his forehead. When she asked what was wrong, he murmured a litany of the tasks awaiting him the next morning at the store. “Forget it, dear,” she said trying to consol him. “Think of something else.” He stared at her for a few moments, then answered faintly, “I have no other thoughts.”