Saturday, February 19, 2011

Here's a link to an article titled "I Am Fine," which deals with an anonymous Harvard student's experiences with depression and attempts at suicide at a high-pressure university. Although it's just a personal reflection, written in prose, the compelling tone and strange appeal of potential violence gives it a veneer of weird artistic seduction, which is evidenced by it being the most read recent article on the Crimson's site. I certainly found the article to be engaging.

A story like this raises some questions on the role of violence in art. What's interesting here is that unlike a poem or a painting, I would not by default assume that a prose editorial should be considered art. It's a piece of self-expression, but generally news articles don't convey the elusive sense of emotional connection or metaphysical impact that Art is usually marked by. However, this particular article, for one reason or another, seems to convey something more than a typical editorial. It's possible that the article's timing, casual expression, and personal point-of-view move it beyond a simple opinion and into the realm of artistic self-expression. It's also possible that the serious and almost taboo subject of suicide pushes the piece beyond our expectations of a typical newspaper article. It's such an intimate look into an anonymous person's flawed perception of the world that it conveys an unusual sense of emotional connection to the author and helps the reader to expand their own perception of the world, which by my account certainly satisfies one of the definitions of art.

However, is it the style alone that gives this piece an artistic vibe? Or is the vibe solely because of the disquieting nature of the violent subject matter? Can violence alone propel a 'typical' work into the sublime realm of art?

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