Selectivity and Art

A key component in art is selectivity. It hasn't been mentioned before, but you can't make any sense of the previous lectures without it. When an artist re-creates reality, he does it through a process of selection. He selects the subject of the work. He selects the style. He selects every detail, deciding whether it's important and adds to the work, or subtracts from it.

This massive process of selection is key to understanding why art conveys the idea "this is important". The artist has to pick each element. If he adds or subtracts a detail, it's because of his own evaluation of the importance of it. With every detail intentional, every detail is viewed as important.

If a painting just had random items, it wouldn't convey anything. But because it was created through this intense process of selection, every detail conveys importance. That's why the work of art is a re-creation of reality. Each piece, by picking only what is deemed as important, makes a statement about what in the world is really important. It focuses on the essentials. And when viewed in that light, the work becomes a representation of the world. It says "this is what's important in the world".

This is how metaphysical value-judgments are conveyed. The art says that the details it presents are what's really important. Those details can judged as being representative of the entire world. Because of their implied significance, the evaluations of those details make a wider statements about the world itself.

The metaphysical value-judgments come from the artist himself. Through this intense process of selection, his own judgments about the world come through. What he selects in his art is based on what he thinks is important based on his own judgments about the world, and his art will reflect that.

An artist may try to convey a subject that doesn't really fit his own view of the world. We see that in Objectivist circles sometimes, where an aspiring author will try to write what he thinks an Objectivist should write about. But the process of selection means his own metaphysical value-judgments will shine through. If the subject matter is not really his own, there will be a clash of metaphysical value-judgments conveyed, and the result will be contradictory and uninspiring.

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