Occasional Posts



Why we need to create art

There is a place in Sweden, a little south of Stockholm, called skogskyrkogården or The Woodland Cemetery. This is a beautiful place, UNESCO has even granted it world heritage status. And as you walk among the rows of decorated gravestones, you find one that is largely unmarked. It has an oval legend on it with an image of a Roman column, and an olive branch and a name inscribed. You recognize the name, of course. It’s the influential designer and prolific architect of the cemetery. Erik Gunnar Asplund.

Then you notice engraved on an even smaller font, the words, HANS VERK LEVER.


Allow me to digress for a bit.

Why do we create?

Why do we as a species that is tiny and irrelevant in the vast emptiness of space, go out of our way to work harder, become better, grow stronger?
Or even some of us, run the same rat race, to get from point A to B till the eventual end of entropy or heat death of the universe? And the end shall come someday, let us not make qualms about it. But that is, I think, what makes everything worthwhile.

Nietzsche said ‘there are no absolute truths,’ and yet it is true that death comes for every man. Until we find a way to make ourselves not age or die, our actions, our work, our memory, is the closest we get to immortality.

Is this not why; in the limited time frame we are given, try to do as much as we possibly can? Build relationships so that our friends, family, random people we meet, can remember us. Can continue to remember us long after we’ve gone. say, ‘He was a great guy,’.
Go to work in the hopes that your work has the ability to touch lives, and someone somewhere remembers you for it. Work here which means any effort undertaken in order to achieve a result.

You ask of Fame? Fame just means that a larger congregation remembers.

Every interaction we make, and small act we do in order to say, ‘Don’t forget. Remember me.’

This brings me back to my original question. Why do we create?

We create to be immortal. To cement ourselves in that linear flow of time. To give ourselves a legacy. I was here. By my works you shall know of me.

Granted, some people are going to make some terrible work. Case in point (in case you wanted one): Charles Manson and the family. But as long as these people are few and far between, I believe most of us can work to create beauty. To create art.

I don’t think anyone can look at the Pieta and not be moved. I don’t think anyone can look at the Hagia Sophia and not be in awe.

So we work. And we build monuments to ourselves and to others. We create because we are human. To fabricate what won’t die in a dying universe.

You look up at the place around you; this cemetery that is more than just that. A place of reflection, a tribute to life. You look at the the beauty captured in this place that could be frozen in time.

His work lives.