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Art and Soul


Great art speaks to our soul.  Consider, for example, a song like Jolie Blonde.  In mournful Cajun French the singer wails:  

Jolie blonde, regardez donc quoi t’as fait,

Tu m’as quitte pour t’en aller,

Pour T’en aller avec un autre, oui, que moi,

Quel espoir et quel avenir, mais, moi, je vais avoir?  

(Pretty blond, look at what you’ve done

You left me to go away

to go away with another, yes, than me

What hope and what future am I going to have?)*  

Great art tells the truth, and if we allow him to do so, a great artist can forge a union between his heart and our own as, together, we peer into ourselves.  In this example, even if one can’t understand the lyrics, one can nevertheless feel the heartsick misery of a man who has lost his beautiful lover to another.  That sadness can be infectious, and our own heart begins to ache with the singer’s.   

From the singer’s sadness we are one step away from the elemental sadness that is inseparable from the human condition, and in a moment of mystical transcendence we touch the collective sadness of our race.  That moment, if it comes, can be overwhelming, resulting in a cathartic cleansing that is often associated with great art and intense religious experience. 

Does the undeniable reality of the experience I described point to something beyond ourselves?  Or is it merely maudlin sentimentality pushed on us by our genes?  If so, why would natural selection select for maudlin sentimentality? 



* Harry Choates’ 1946 version (see here) is probably the standard.

I am YEC. i don't agree there is any experience here going on that is otherwise ordinary. Indeed the language is irrelevant because the tone or agreed sounds for sadness is what is being delivered. Feelings are in fact just thoughts. We only have thoughts. The 'feelings' invoked are really invoking thoughts. These thoughts are invoked by common consent on sounds/tones for expressing these thoughts. One does not need words for sad music but sad music must be slow quiet music etc. Music is just a more primitive articulation of our thoughts on some subject. Our thoughts come from being unique thinking beings made in Gods image. No genes are involved as was said. however music is not evidence of a spiritual being but only of a complex thinking being. Robert Byers

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