Art and the Humanities Term Paper

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Visual Imagery and Qualitative Dimensions of Life & Consciousness in Visual Art

Throughout history all cultures have produced works of art. The impulse to create as a means of personal expression and to stimulate the imagination of viewers is universal and perpetual. In their various manifestations, the arts play an important role in defining culture by presenting intelligent viewpoints of our present state of being, and by serving as a record of our past. The visual arts are a repository of those qualitative dimensions of life, which enhance our consciousness through the use of visual imagery.

The most exquisite expression of the self is through art, be it literature, history theatre, painting, sculptor and so on. From the wondrous Egyptian pyramids to the majestic statue of liberty, from eloquent Greek writer Homer - who produced masterpieces like the Odyssey - to 20th century literati like Palestinian journalist Edward Said - who so brilliantly portrays the lives of the wretched and woebegone Palestinians - to Latin American writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, every piece of art, all artistes depict one philosophy and that is Art for Life, representing Man's struggle and how this endeavor has led to his evolution.

For much of the century, the relationship of art and Humanities has remained unexplored by critics. Indeed, various types of formalist theory, with an accent on "art for Life's sake," dominated the critical scene and actively excluded from consideration the question of how the arts inform the way we act towards others.

Interpreting Literature

As critic Morton Berman says: "In putting words on paper you will have to take a second and a third look at what is in front of you and what is within you. Writing then is not only a way of expressing pleasure but also a way of learning. The last word about complex thoughts and feelings is never said, but when we write we hope to make at least a little progress in the difficult and rewarding job of talking about our responses. We learn and then we hope to interest our readers because we are communicating to them our responses to something that for one
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reason or another is worth talking about." (1)

What we interpret from this is that communication is in effect teaching. One may think that one is writing for someone specific. But that again is a misconception. When one writes, he or she automatically becomes the teacher. A literary essay is an attempt to help the reader see the work not only as the writer sees it but also in a much more broader perspective, i.e. In multi-dimensions as one sees life itself.

Struggle as we know it

Before going into further detail as to the reflection of man's struggle in art, one should first define what struggle actually means. Struggle as we know it, can be divided into two categories, namely Struggle for the evolution of the self, meaning the Individual and that of the society. In the former, it is all about self-reflection, the fight between good and bad within the individual, the fight for one's principles as well as self-discovery.

Whereas the struggle for the evolution of the society consists of fighting against the evils, upholding truth and justice.

Man's Struggle as History sees it: A Literary Analysis

History is replete with examples as to how man has struggled. Take the French; one of the foremost names that come to mind is Victor Hugo and Les Miserables, where he depicts the struggle of the common man during the bloody revolution days.

Famous French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau had once said: "Man is born free but everywhere he's in chains." Let us look more closely at this phrase... And let us go further back in time, when it all began.

What History tell us

At first it was the Egyptians and the Babylonians who so masterfully depicted their day-to-day issues as well the way they evolved in time via the scriptures, and then came the Greeks and the Romans, and with them came Beowulf, the Iliad. These periods of time and the struggle within them were immortalized not by the heroes but by the impressive representation by the likes of Herodotus, Sophocoles, Virgil and so on.

Art for Life

It was the Dark Ages that Art and its different genres suffered…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

1) A short history of English literature: Pages124 & 125. Sylvan Barnet

2) History of English literature: Pages123 & 127. Legouis & Cazamain

3) An Introduction to Fiction, Drama and Poetry: Pages 355 to 361. Kennedy Gioia

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