Sunday, May 06, 2012

Telic People, not Nihilists, Produce Great Art.

Flowers, at Monroe County Community College
Charles Murray, in his essay "Future tense, IX: Out of the wilderness," reasons that one of the conditions needed to produce great art and foster creativity is belief that life has a purpose. He writes: "A major stream of human accomplishment is fostered by a culture in which the most talented people believe that life has a purpose and that the function of life is to fulfill that purpose."

Nihilists, as regards human creative accomplishments, are at a disadvantage in two ways.

1) "The first disadvantage is in the motivation to take on the intense and unremitting effort that is typically required to do great things. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of great accomplishment...  The willingness to engage in such monomaniacal levels of effort in the arts is related to a sense of vocation. By vocation, I have in mind the dictionary definition of “a function or station in life to which one is called by God.” God needn’t be the source. Many achievers see themselves as having a vocation without thinking about where it came from. My point is that the characteristics of nihilism—ennui, anomie, alienation, and other forms of belief that life is futile and purposeless—are at odds with the zest and life-affirming energy needed to produce great art."

2) "The second disadvantage involves the artist’s choice of content. If life is purposeless, no one kind of project is intrinsically more important than any other kind... If instead [the artist] has a strong sense of “This is what I was put on earth to do,” the choice of content will matter, because he has a strong sense that what he does is meaningful. To believe life has a purpose carries with it a predisposition to put one’s talents in the service of the highest expression of one’s vocation."

Telic people, not nihilists, produce great art.