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Subject: Love, Drugs, Art, Religion: The Pains and Consolations of Existence
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 1 Feb 2017 01:33:15 -0500

text/plain (63 lines)

An extract from 'Love, Drugs, Art, Religion: The Pains and Consolations of

>"Can it really intelligibly be contended that the products of artistic
creation -- widely regarded as counting among the highest achievements of
the human spirit -- function simply as substitutive satisfactions, offering
a merely illusory happiness in place of that real happiness which must
forever elude us? Can one seriously advance the view that enjoyment of Bach
and Wagner, of Shakespeare and Proust, and of Vermeer and Picasso, has any
connection -- let alone a profound one -- with either the reality-fleeing
use of intoxicants or the embracing of an infantile, compensatory faith? It
would seem, in other words, that to conceive of art in terms of its
palliative function involves an unpalatable denigration of its value and
significance in human life. For while both drugs and religion may (not
entirely unreasonably) be regarded merely as escapist strategies, the role
of art in human life seems far more elevated, more worthy; and while one
might intelligibly think that drugs and religion are an impediment to human
flourishing (and are, as a consequence, unnecessary) art, on the other
hand, seems indispensable. It is precisely this worthiness and
indispensability that would appear to call for something other than a
palliative interpretation. In this chapter, however, it will be contended
that to conceive of art as one of humanity's auxiliary constructions is NOT


>"I may gain considerable delight from listening to Strauss' 'Four Last
Songs', even though I am no musician myself. Freud, of course, would agree,
noting that the artist makes accessible the enjoyment of art to those who
themselves lack artistic creativity, but his second point aims to undermine
our hopeful expectations: 'the mild narcosis induced in us by art can do no
more than bring about a transient withdrawal from the pressure of vital
needs, and it is not strong enough to make us forget real misery'. To use
an image of Schopenhauer's, taken from a rather different context, in the
face of the miseries and horrors of life, the consolations offered by art
are 'as effective as a syringe at a great fire'.... Aesthetic pleasure just
isn't pleasurable enough; its consolations mild and fleeting."

A brief interview with the author here:


At some level I agree with Freud in 'CAID', but less so as the years pass.

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