Friday’s Big Idea
Today's Big Idea: The Connective Power of Art
The art that sticks around for centuries tends to do two seemingly contradictory things especially well:
1) It preserves, as if under glass, the sights, sounds, and attitudes of the time and place in which it was created.
2) It seems to understand us, its readers, viewers, or listeners, to an uncanny degree. We feel as if we would have said it the same way ourselves, if we only had the words.
Both of these qualities give art its incredible connective power. When it hits us, art can connect us with ourselves, with our communities, and with humans who lived centuries ago, in a very different world from our own.
Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt denies that literature can be "universal," arguing that to understand Shakespeare fully, we have to understand Elizabethan England. Still, he acknowledges its strange ability to cut across cultural and historical differences.