What is art
Andrew Jankowski finds the question “What is art?” As “completely crazy and faux-profound”. However, he needs to have a working answer to it, as he is certain that “games are games and not art”. There seem to be a number of criteria by which he makes this assessment, and while he refuses to propose any authoritative theory about what makes some art, I can infer some things from his essay about his ideas on the subject.
First, I suspect that Jankowski is generally convinced that if something is one thing, it cannot be another: the nature of video games as games defines their ultimate and formal cause and thus rules out the possibility that they could serve a specific purpose could serve to be art. As a rule, this is not always correct: for example, many art forms arise from religious rituals that are different from art. The purpose of religious ritual is to glorify God; The purpose of art is – more on that later. However, one can serve both purposes.
Aristotle’s account of the genesis of Greek tragedy is historically suspect in its details, but certainly some types of ancient Greek poetry – for example dithyrambic songs – were originally performed for the worship of gods, particularly Dionysus. Often ritual music is spontaneous, improvised and not fixed in its course or structure, as Jankowski considers it a good art. But I doubt that Jankowski would say about these songs: “Hymns are hymns, not art” – no religious icons, “Prayer aids are prayer aids, not art.”
In other words, art can accomplish other goals while it is still art. My argument about video games is that the best of them are games and art: they do both. Jankowski doesn’t think this is possible because “art has to present us with a finished product – not an open experience.” It seems that something like fixity or perfection is what Aristotle called an “essential quality” of art in his view could have – a feature of it that is not only unmistakable, but forms the core of what it is. According to Jankowski’s “general rule: the more leeway a work of art gives its characters, the less space its audience has to wander in productive contemplation.”
I think these are interesting observations, but they are not fatal to my reasoning. It is true that video games involve more audience participation than most other art forms. (There are, of course, plays like Ayn Rand’s January 16 night where the audience is involved in deciding what happens in the end. But mostly, I take Jankowski’s point of view.) It is also true that the results are player participation Part of the gaming experience – I argued in my essay that working within a set of rules makes gaming distinctive and emotionally powerful for its connoisseurs.
What is not true is that the interactive immersion in the narrative leaves the player “nothing to think about”. This could be the case if the players’ leeway were infinite (whatever that meant). But it’s not like that: players don’t choose everything through the story; You decide how you want to react to the established rules and plot points.
Playing a game means operating within a narrative framework and among a range of characters. Players can often influence the course of the narrative, but not without limits, and the characters themselves are not empty “virtual avatars” that you simply insert yourself into like an arm in a sleeve. In many cases, the protagonists and villains of games – for example the Final Fantasy VII cloud – are complex, carefully drawn people whose motivations and experiences leave a lot of “room for contemplation”.
What I have learned about my own point of view from considering Jankowski’s argument is that I do not think that “fixity” or “immutability” is actually an essential quality of art. Is jazz art? How about some improvisational comedy? Were the Homeric poems art before the Peisistratid review, if their structure had been different each time, depending on the requirements of the occasion? Absolutely yes, I would argue, but they all depend to a large extent on the participation and input of the audience: fixity just doesn’t work as a criterion for qualifying as an art.
However, it is probably a quality that all art has to some extent. Games have it too: the art of the developer consists in imagining, realizing and establishing the structural framework of characters and narratives in which the players act. I think that the “playability” that makes this possible, while distinctive, doesn’t stop something at first sight from being art. Jankowski disagrees because he considers fixity to be essential. So our disagreement really revolves around this “faux-deep” question: What is art?
I give an answer in my essay; Jankowski quotes it. Use art ”[s] Color, light, sound and language to convey what it is like to lead a human life. “I admit, I find Jankowski’s rejection of this idea – and the question it is supposed to answer – confusing. It is not a type of discourse, as he suggests, that has only emerged in the 20th century since the birth of Conceptual Art.
The question “What is art?” Has existed in some form since the beginning of Criticism as we know it, and my answer comes largely from ancient sources – in particular from Plato, Symposium 205b-c, Republic X and Aristotle Poetics 1447a. Art is a mimesis – a representation of human experiences through imitation that cannot be articulated or expressed in any other way.
Something very similar to this idea is actually behind Viktor Shklovsky’s subtle observation that “art exists so that one can regain the feeling of life,” which Jankowski quotes with approval. But I have to say, I still find Aristotle’s observations on the subject to be more subtle and complete.
Like all good theoretical treatments, the old mimetic approach is broad and flexible enough to recognize new forms, while specific enough to exclude the foreign: video games convey elements of human experience such as joy, heroism, and love through representation. Chess and boxing don’t do that. They don’t even try, even if they are aesthetically beautiful: this is why video games are art and they are not.
In short, I think that many young men are full of lusts to go out and do things, and that video games and digital technology in general have re-empowered them to respond to that desire. But nothing dictates that if you do, you will be a force for good.
As Aristotle points out, different art forms use different sensual media – rhythm, color, tone, language – to achieve the goal of mimesis. But everything that achieves that goal is art, in my opinion. I think video games qualify for the reasons I originally stated and Jankowski hasn’t given me enough reason to change my mind.
Regarding Jankowski’s efforts to psychoanalyze me, it remains to say, “Klavan clearly has a goal that shows that he has worked back from his ideal conclusion and not forward from a reasonable argument.” From a personal standpoint, this just isn’t the case unless Jankowski believes I have hidden motivations that I wasn’t clear at the time of writing. I set out to wonder if video games were art. To do this, I referred to the old criterion given above. I came up with an affirmative answer and then considered some of the moral and social implications of that answer.
Jankowski thinks I find these moral and social implications wholesome, and that’s why I want video games to be art. In these two points too, he has to know more about my subconscious than I do. In my original essay, I pointed out a surge of energy that has manifested itself in important political ways in recent times: for example, the GameStop stock fiasco and the 2016 election. “The mindset of gaming inspires follow-up and pursuit for the real Life, “I wrote.
But I have also tried very hard to point out that actions and efforts to follow consequences can have all kinds of moral characters. I write that video games have “released powerful new energies that can be mobilized for good or bad” (emphasis added). In short, I think that many young men are full of lusts to go out and do things, and that video games and digital technology in general have re-empowered them to respond to that desire. But nothing dictates that if they do they will be a force for good: in the case of GameStop, they basically seem to have been a force for chaos.
This is precisely why I argue that conservative video games should pay attention: not because politics should determine what art is, but because the energy released and channeled by art has a profound impact on politics, good or bad. “Music styles in a city never change without major laws changing too,” said Damon, and Socrates agreed (Republic 424d), as did Percy Shelley and Andrew Breitbart. It’s not about being happy or crazy or indifferent that this is the case: it’s about realizing it and acting accordingly.
The right is now or should be assembling a new populist coalition. That coalition includes some Reddit brothers who have never voted red but are fed up with the parched ruling class they’ve lived under all their lives.
We need to know how to talk to these guys – what makes them tick, what inspires them, what fascinates them. For many of them, the answer to that is: video games. In my essay I have tried to answer why this is so; and although I am not convinced of Jankowski that I was wrong, I appreciate his provocative questioning of my arguments and the opportunity to deal with him here.