Today’s sermon: What is art for? A response, in part, to Raymond Tallis’s Summers of Discontent

Then one more reason – perhaps the biggest reason – for encouraging (forcing?) children to experience art is so that they can relive their childhood, or at least pieces of it, as adults.

Tiny Camels / Jonathan Gibbs

arts discontent

To Waterstones Piccadilly on Wednesday night to hear and join a debate on ‘the purpose of the arts today’, based on Raymond Tallis’s book Summers of Discontent – essentially a careful selection of his previous writings by writer and gallerist Julian Spalding. This isn’t one of those socio-political treatises that tries to explain why we should go on pouring so many millions a year into the Royal Opera House, or why the Arts Council budget should be slashed or increased, but rather a philosophical discussion of what the art encounter, whether it be literature, music or theatre, can give us, as existential, post-religious human beings.

Tallis’s premise is that we as humans suffer a ‘wound’ in the present tense of our consciousness, such that we can never be fully present in our lives, but are always late to our own experiences. Art, he says, can help with this by showing how…

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