For example, the principle of power through consent of the governed
provides insight into how one should deal with the multitude of political
issues facing a multitude of cultures. All the democratic ideals
flow from this principle. If you have a principle of energy equals
mass times the speed of light squared, you have a tool for treating matter
as energy, opening consequences like mushroom clouds.
Art takes the world in miniature, creating a simplified picture of reality which allows us to see that miniature world at a glance, uniting in our vision what reality spreads across a stage too large for humans to comprehend.
For instance, art can take an entire lifespan and shrink it down to a few hundred pages, allowing you to experience the essence of a life without spending your entire life doing so.
In discarding most of the minutes of a life, the shrinking process used by art creates an inherently unreal image. But this unreality is essential because, again, reality is too big for our comprehension. The selection process and artistic structure bring to light a pattern life "in the raw" often buries. Without art, to borrow from the words of a song, we will be "Looking for a sign//That fits into our mind//But don't understand//What we see all the time."
Further, the process gives us an insight into the mind of the artist. If you then take an artistic approach to art itself by drawing from a wide range of perspectives, these insights into individual artists join to form a perspective on the human race.
A couple of metaphors may help make this clear. These are a mirror and a book with footnotes.
A work of art is like a mirror because it assembles items from different planes into a single perspective. This foreshortening makes that reflection unreal, but only in precisely the manner necessary to create a single unified image. When things can be seen in a single glance, unanticipated patterns and relationships often emerge.
A book with footnotes has a story which provides the overall relational framework, while the footnotes provide the detail necessary for a full understanding of the story. A story told using hypertext is a virtual embodiment of this metaphor. Any segment of the story that is complex or obscure can link to a detailed background analysis that would wreck the continuity of the story were it to be written in full into the main text.
"For all our are days passed away in wrath: we spend our years as a
tale that is told."
What this means is that on my own I do not have the perspective necessary to know myself fully because I do not know the other members of my species. It means we must go to God if we are to gain any measure of complete understanding of ourselves. We need the manufacturer's specifications, and the white stone upon which is written our own true name. Art plays a huge role in self discovery because we view ourselves as a story. For evidence of this, merely consider a statement that begins, "When I was a child...." You see the person you are now as being the same person you were then, only older. That child and you are connected by the story of your life.
This has great significance for the unity of the Body of Christ.
Just as you cannot love someone more than you love yourself, you cannot
understand someone more than you understand yourself. And if we think
the Body of Christ will come into unity despite gross misunderstanding
among the members we are greatly mistaken. True compassion is not
born of ignorance.
Further, the work of art is itself open to becoming part of another work of art, so that complexity-reducing symbols are themselves woven into a larger symbol that unites several works of art. A classic example of this is "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot. Without an understanding of the many works this poem references, much of its power is lost. This is why the view that art is an individual effort is misguided. The work may have been created by a lone artist, but that artist has been touched by other works of art, and cannot help but draw their experience of the artistic perspective into their art. In this recursive fashion, art can progress in scope. Sadly, a great deal of art in this age strives to cut itself off from the past, to create something new, to place novelty above meaning. And to thus be neither novel nor meaningful.
Think about this for a moment. New art? Is it not a sign of the arrogance of our age that we act as if we were the first humans? Are we the first people to live and die, to love and hate, to face a bewildering world, to make choices with genuine consequences? Do we have such a shallow view of art that we fail to see its real power is in showing us how little humans have changed, and instead think the importance lies in the varieties of social contexts? Are we cut off from the choice between running away or doing battle because we do not live in a Danish castle? Is the conflict between the individual and society irrelevant to us because we do not live under Big Brother? Do we never face the question of honor because there is no king who wants to kill us asleep in our cave? Mistaking style for substance, many artists spend their strength on fashionable foppery.
The progressive expansion of scope in turn opens a relationship between artistic perspective and dialectic knowledge. Without artistic perspective, knowledge is blind. Without dialectic knowledge, perspective does not understand what it sees. In other words, knowledge increases perspective because you understand more of what you see, but first you have to see it.
When a small child sees a tree, they see a big thing sticking up from
the ground. When they understand concepts like branch, leaf, trunk,
and root, their perspective on the tree expands. If they become a
forester that same glance will tell them the tree's age, general health,
and commercial value. But mere dialectic knowledge of trees will
not lead you to the perspective gained from the story of the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The overall process of understanding the Word moves through three phases: artistic then dialectic then artistic. We learn the stories, then take the stories apart to learn their details, then reassemble the stories in their fulness.
The dialectic phase two without a subsequent reassembling artistic phase three is dead. It produces a fragmented understanding, leaving us with Christ divided. For example, quite a few people who had to read MacBeth in high school can remember the basic story, and even some of the details, but do not understand what the play means nor why it is considered a great work of art. In fact, the more the teacher emphasized details like Malcom going to England, the more likely it is the person knows the trees but cannot see the forest.
The dialectic phase two without the initial artistic phase one produces nothing. We simply do not understand. This is why so many educated people make utterly foolish statements about the Bible. They do not know The Story, and so have no frame of reference to guide their understanding of the details. In other words they do not know what it is they are trying to take apart.
The initial artistic phase one without the dialectic phase two leaves
us with a bunch of fairy tales, myths without substance or adult understanding.
This leads to the child level wisdom of unitarianism. Without an
understanding of the details, you can easily fall into the error of thinking
two similar sounding stories say the same thing when in fact their meanings
are utterly irreconcilable. In other words, hearing something does
not mean you
Buddhism believes nature is an illusion, you are an illusion, God is
an illusion, everything is an illusion, and the sooner you realize this
the sooner you can stay dead and join the void when you die instead of
being endlessly reincarnated back into this illusion we unenlightened call
Life. If you think life is a fantasy, of course any conflict is foolish.
There is nothing real between which a conflict can exist, making conflict
is a double illusion.
At the nuclear level, so to speak, are the songs. This why the album series begins with Art of Pantomime. In the context of this essay, this song can be seen as being about the importance of such a song, both in terms of "art" and in terms of the existential isolation that makes art essential. If we could directly experience another's thoughts, learning and understanding would be easy. Just find the smartest person you know and access their experiences.
The next level, that of concept albums like Predator, show how a diversity of individual entities can be united into a larger entity that draws its identity from the relationships among its parts. This is driven by multi-faceted songs, where their image changes depending on the light in which they are seen. Take Sky of Smoke as an example. It has its own meaning when viewed in isolation. But this image changes when seen in the light of the abortion issue, or the light of Christian silence in a state separated from the Church, or the light of the kingdom of the Beast.
The call to be BRIDE MINDED is embodied at the next level in the Quest To Be Whole series theme.The destiny of the Church is to be as unified and fully alive as a bride on her wedding day.
The call to an artistic perspective in the Church is represented at the next level in the band itself. Mirror Covenant exists not only to create meaningful music, but also to suggest a new set of standards for Christian rock in particular and Christian art in general. Part of our effort is to implement these standards, as well as we can, not only as a living metaphor of the concept of artistic perspective, but also as an example to other artists.
Mirror Covenant is essentially a recursive project, in that we are creating art about the importance of art. We fervently hope other groups will not only surpass our implementation, but also our standards. To those people we say, "Stand upon our shoulders. Exceed our vision. We will do our best to stand as tall as possible for you."