To understand something is the human obsession. We can understand the value of money; we literally print the value on the face of the currency. We can understand the value of love; we articulate it through words, quality time, gifts, other love languages. However, we cannot understand the value of art. Think about your most recent encounter with a work of art, like that orange structure on State Street between the UMMA and Angell Hall. Some people analyze it in efforts to find meaning in the artist’s choices. Others stare blankly at the piece wondering what the heck is this garbage or I don’t get it.
Everyone processes art differently, creating an infinitely dimensional character. This is precisely the point of my series of 3 Possible Sources of the Meaning of Life. We attempt to outline the nature of human beings through personality tests or zodiac signs, confining a person to a boxed off “type.” While these conceptions are valuable prompts for self reflection, I do not believe that they are completely valid, yet we accept them in order to satisfy our obsession. Each stimulant in the world around us registers differently and our reaction cannot necessarily be calculated. It may be predicted by trends in our personality, I suppose, but personalities can evolve. We cannot understand the value of art because everyone values are differently. You can never fully conclude someone’s motives behind a piece, but you can appreciate the artwork in your own way. Furthermore, you can be the artist, accepting that not everyone will “get you” but you produce your own meaning.