Richard Dare wants to know…

…where the meaning in art and music has gone, according to his article in Huffington Post.

To be more precise, he thinks it’s there, but artists (and composers) don’t want to talk about it.  It’s a valid question, but I’m not sure I like why he’s asking.  I do think that the man has a point about artists being coy to avoid being censored by people on the lookout for the decay of whatever moral fabric of something something society Jesus something.  On the other side of that, though, there is no better publicity than a little scandal, when you can upset the more uptight members of a society, the more easygoing members will check it out just to see what the fuss is all about.

I also think that another reason that artists keep their mouths shut is that they have to work in a capitalist society.  If I have some artistic “truth” or “meaning” to impart that nobody wants to pay for, I starve.  It is much easier to challenge the world like you want me to, Richard, if I get paid even if you don’t like what I have to say.

Also, since when did the struggle with a piece become completely invalid?!  Meaning in art is not something that the artist is always consciously aware of.  It’s not like the answer to your big questions are written on the back of the painting; you can’t really get meaning right or wrong (unless you live in a society where all you do is memorize and regurgitate information about art, rather than try to interpret for yourself).  You can’t simply walk up to artists and say, “Meaning, please!”  If you can’t derive any meaning for yourself from a piece, like it seems that you have trouble doing, what makes you think that some answer from the artist is going to make you feel any better?

The problem with Richard’s approach is that he wants art to function like the Internet, where if he wants to learn about a piece, he can simply Wikipedia it.