2011-07-20

Values and Art

I wonder what it would be like to read The Count of Monte Cristo if I were a man who never felt vengeful in any circumstance. In many ways, that story is a warning of the dangers of a human inclination carried too far. A man who possessed no such inclination, though, would read the story very differently. The inclination itself would be bewildering. The reader would have no sympathy for the protagonist. It would become a story about a bad man who suffered some bad luck and engaged in bad behavior. A unique depiction of a particular kind of "bad." Rather than playing out as warnings on the limits of inherent human traits, such stories play out as depictions of bad people doing bad things and suffering the predictable consequences. Although there is adversity, there is no conflict; without conflict, there is no plot. Without plot, the story can't be appreciated as a story (even if the prose can be valued as prose). 

The full scope of how a person's values impact their appreciation for art never really struck me until today.