Friday, March 30, 2012

Meditation On A World Without Art

“The Los Angeles Unified School District has proposed total elimination of its elementary school arts education program. This unprecedented step will reverse a ten-year effort made by the District to restore arts education to its 700,000 students.”

Arts For LA, February 6, 2012

In a world without color, no one looks for rainbows after a storm.  No one looks for truth in blue skies.  The word green has no meaning.

In a world without beauty, we will once again be people lost in a desert.  In a void, all journeys are stillborn.  Stars in the night sky are ignored.  There is everything mired in nothing.

In a world with abstract numbers and words, no one recognizes the poetry falling from trees or the patterns inside us mirroring the universe.  There is no cohesion, no connection.  We wait patiently in the dark by dead telephones for a voice we have not been taught to hear.

In a world without song, we lose the ability to fly.  We grumble and mutter our discontent.  We attempt to raise our voice to fill the void, but silence reigns like a despot in winter.

In a world without imagination, everyone is stillborn.  They squat in alleys, waiting for time to finish with them.  They pray for rain that will never fall.  Drought begins in the heart and spreads out across the land to infect the moon.  Heat in the night oppresses, it suffocates.

Oh, how we wail and gnash our teeth.  Oh, how we wear sack cloth and ashes.  We murder our children by murdering their vision.  We sell ourselves short and stare at the bone fragments under our feet.  Stories are flat houses.  Our lives lack the arc, the scope and sequence of beauty or meaning.  “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

We train our children to be computers, to be automatons, or worse, to be ruled by machines.

Over the next hill, “ignorant armies clash by night.” In black and white, blood on the earth loses its meaning.

I want to map out the sky.

I want to sing songs.

I want to paint my dreams.

Write a sonnet.

Ring bells of beauty.

Education without grace is learning the curve of emptiness.

To feel, to think, to achieve, we must dream.

We must imagine.

We must search for beauty in the streets and alleys of our broken world. And we must teach children how to see the grace in the decay, the wonder in the truth, the sanctity of color.

“Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold

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