In this very moving speech that Albert Camus delivered at Uppsala University in Sweden, he emphasized that an “art for art’s sake” means nothing, and an artist has the responsibility to create art that will give voice to the voiceless, hence “create dangerously”.
While I understand the point of a meaningful art, how does one actually create it? What makes an art meaningful? While the word “dangerous” attached to my favorite word “create” sounds so cool and badass, how can I do so? Or, better ask, have I been doing it?
Does this current version of my creative studio inside my tiny condo already looks “dangerous” to you? Lol.
Having been chain-shopping for books lately in an effort to force myself to read more (because boy, I’ve been observing lately that in my lectures and writing that my vocabulary has been becoming more and more limited and therefore I have to read and write more), I bought a set of Penguin Mini Modern books, and book 17 is Albert Camus’s Create Dangerously. I mean, the title itself captured my vibe already, so I picked this as the first one to read.
Here are some of the quotations from the book that I find the most interesting:
- “If they speak up, they are criticized and attacked. If they become modest and keep silent, they are vociferously blamed for their silence.”
- “Art is threatened by the powers of the state.”
- (A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson) “So long as a man is faithful to himself, everything in his favor, government, society, the very sun, moon, and stars.” (Camus added) “Such amazing optimism seems dead today. In most cases, the artist is ashamed of himself and his privileges, if he has any. He must first of all answer the question he has to put to himself: is art a deceptive luxury?”
I mean, this! We’ve been living in a society where freedom has become part of every human being’s basic necessities, and yet there is also a huge repercussion with regards to taking advantage of our freedom. Also, since art as a form of expression is still bound by the sovereign powers of the State, to what extent can we express through the arts? These things actually hinder artists from fully unlocking the potential of their art. And another point of argument will be the purpose of the art itself. Is it a mere decoration, or does it serve a better, more meaningful purpose of communicating a powerful message?
Camus concluded the said speech by saying,
- Let us rejoice as artists, torn from our sleep and our deafness, forced to keep our eyes on destitution, prisons, and bloodshed.
- Danger makes men classical, and all greatness, after all, is rooted in risk.
- The freedom of art is not worth much when its only purpose is to assure the artist’s comfort.
- Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is — in the very thick of the battle.
Being an artist meant being part of the battle to fight for something, to give voice to the voiceless, and to allow the world to see and feel what is meant to be seen and felt.
Have I been living a “Dangerously Creative” life?
Yes, for sure. Every single day. My Instagram feed has been a living proof of this. There were days when I overthink every content I will post. I worry in terms of it being stolen by someone, I worry in terms of how acceptable it is, and I worry about whether I’m delivering the wrong message.
But that’s what “creating dangerously” is all about. It’s not art for art’s sake. All the street photos from all over Asia I’m posting shows the real action (or inaction) in the streets, no matter how unimpressive they may seem. All the short films and videos I create are all about expressing emotions that I possibly share with some people. All the profanities I include in my posts are needed to emphasize angst and other related emotions. This blog in itself (which appears whenever people would look at my academic profile/CV) is in itself a dangerous creation.
Camus has said a lot about how art can be used to revolutionize something, and I could go on and on. More interestingly, Camus has mentioned to what extent art can be related to socialistic realism and political realism, a topic I want to discuss more in another blog, since it’s related to my academic field of study (yay!).
I’ll expand this blog to talk more later, I promise! 🙂