Letters to the editor

It’s too bad that politics today in the United States make up so much of national cultural life. When American cultural life was more vibrant and more about creating very good art — music, novels, movies, painting — politics was in competition with art for people’s attention. 

It was to art, not politics, that people turned to put themselves in a good state of mind. Art was a sanctuary from politics. And that really is the function of art in the world: to turn craziness into something beautiful and put people in a better state of mind.

That’s why artists are often viewed as eccentric. They wrestle to make bad into their vision of good; they’re alchemists. That’s why artists are so important in any culture, but also why they are so easily dismissed as inconsequential.

It’s not surprising that as art sinks in creativity, politics also suffer. That’s certainly the case today in the U.S. If there was a great artistic upheaval again in the U.S., politics would have to improve, because politics — being the art of the possible — wants to achieve the same effect as art: positive states of mind. Not having art as a competitor allows politics to sink to the level of putting people in a perpetually bad state of mind.

This function of art is missing today in America. Media or technology might be responsible for its disappearance. But it’s obvious that American politics yearns for art to challenge it again in how to create a positive state of affairs.

Matthew Atlee