Art, Optimism, and Subjective Experience—All Things Old Become New

Art tries to capture the beauty of life.  Right? Surprisingly, some people would disagree.  Anti-mimesis is a philosophical position, directly opposing mimesis, which contends that life imitates art, rather than art imitating life.  The most notable proponent of this seemingly absurd belief is Oscar Wilde

Wilde holds that anti-mimesis “results not merely from Life‘s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy.”

I believe Wilde’s hypothesis deserves merit.  It is a truth that the life experience is subjective, with each person’s unique experience having countless outside influences.  Henry David Thoreau, a notable transcendentalist, observed that the natural world we see reflects our inner condition.  The happy soul is more likely to see beauty and goodness in nature, while the angry soul will see darkness and dreariness.

The purpose of art is to capture a sentiment; to convey beauty, flaws, or other emotion through some form of creative expression.  People typically create art that reflects either good or evil in the world.

I would hypothesize that the nature of the art that one views can influence one’s perception of how the world actually is. Consistent exposure to art with a negative message can gradually cause a person to become depressed or spiteful.  On the other hand, regular exposure to art with a positive message can make one upbeat and content.

Because of this, I try to expose myself to art with a positive message.  I listen to upbeat music, read optimistic authors, and spend time perusing relaxing images like the one seen at the top of this page.

Avoiding art with a negative message has allowed me to develop a very positive outlook on the world.  I believe that making a concerted outlook to be optimistic is the simplest way to be happy in this life.  I recommend that you seek art that depicts the world as peaceful, marvelous, and sublime.  You might just find that all things old become new.


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