May 9, 2012

Art Saves Lives

Alice Herz-Sommer and son Raphael

The great violinist Roman Totenberg has died, as has the great storyteller and artist Maurice Sendak. An immeasurable loss to their legions of fans and to the world.

Why is it that for some people art is everything, and for other people, nothing?  Or this form of art ~ be it music or painting or writing or whatever ~ doesn’t move me but I can’t live without that form of art?  And why are some people “tone-deaf” when it comes to art, and they think people who do are crazy?

What is it that gives art its power?  Does it begin in the basic human drive to connect, to create, to feel transcendence and beauty, to be elevated by the spiritual?  Is it intellectual or emotional or both?

I suspect it’s very complicated and includes all of the above.

Art literally has the power to save lives.  Don’t believe me?  Here is a video about Alice Herz-Sommer (interviewed by Tony Robbins), who is 108.  She is a fabulous Czech pianist who survived the Nazi concentration camp at Theresienstadt.  The reason why the Nazis kept her around was because of her playing, which saved her life.  And she kept her six-year-old son Raphael alive with her. Her art saved her life and that of her son ~ that and her fabulous optimism ~ and I suspect it continues to save her life, in that she still plays every day and it gives her a reason to live. Alice has said just that: "Music saved my life and music saves me still."

(I am also fascinated by the psychology of the Nazis.  Here are people who are able to so totally dehumanize people as to exterminate them, yet they value art so highly?  Art is supposed to connect, yet in this instance maybe it helped dehumanize.  What's up with that?)

I am reminded of the movie Dead Poets Society ~ art saves lives, and the lack of it, or what it represents, can cause death.

People die for their passions and principals all the time.  You’ve got to think that they are saved by them as well.


Anonymous said...

Dead Poet's of my all-time favorites. This was fascinating, I never remember to keep up with your blog posts and I always seem to miss when you post them on FB!

Tamara said...

Thank you so much!! Isn't DPS just one of the best movies ever?! Sound your babaric yawp, man.

Thanks for stopping by, and I'm loving your website/society6/pinterest too!