What is art?
There’s an old black and white movie that spends two hours depicting a jury sitting around a table in a room, deliberating the verdict of a murder trial.
Now I could also be wrong about this too, but I think it all starts when Jimmy Stewart, who’s the only one of the twelve jurors who hasn’t quite made up his mind to sentence the young man on trial to death, decides he wants to go over things… one more time.
In doing so, everyone realizes that they’re not looking at the facts of the case at all, but rather have made up their minds to punish the accused for no other reason than they’re all just really angry at someone else in their personal lives who they can’t punish.
With the question, “Can I just go through it one more time?” the neatly rolled up guilty verdict (and resulting death sentence) starts to unravel until it finally comes completely undone, and the whole jury agrees the man is innocent and they themselves are just “12 Angry Men.”
And so it is, sometimes, with these apparently simple and obvious things like art.
Another allegory or analogy: Einstein (remember, don’t take my word for all this) would apparently spend days working on a solution to some deep, fundamental physics problem that he wasn’t satisfied with and then throw all his calculations and papers away and start over again.
You can do that with physics because everything is derived from first principles (laws, or something) and any physics problem can be solved (if you know how) by applying the handful of first principles to the complexities of any situation.
Einstein would start all over because he thought he would stumble on the answer if he could start from the beginning and go over it… one more time.
So, like Einstein at his desk, and Jimmy Stewart in the jury room, I don’t feel quite satisfied with my current understanding of things, and although I can’t really see an obvious mistake in any of it, I just want to go over it again, one more time.
So, one more time…
What is art?