By David Eaton, Lecturer in Music and Culture, Barrytown College of UTS
Over the years I’ve occasionally been asked if, as a composer and producer, I’m influenced by the environment around me, or do I attempt to change my environment through my creative endeavors. The answer is: “Both.” Like any individual, I am affected by the happenings in my life and those experiences will undoubtedly affect my creative endeavors. It’s also true that those of us who are blessed with creative abilities do not create in a vacuum, and as such, that which we create and put before the public has consequences.
The more essential issue is how we use our creativity in the context of creating a culture of peace. As a composer I’m always asking myself if my music will take people to a higher, better place — or not. My responsibility as an artist to my community is something I take very seriously.
American painter, Jack Beal, recently opined: “The Platonic ideal of truth, beauty and goodness is not a bad set of ideals to live by. But where has that gone? For thousands of years art was seen as a source of responsible moral and ethical leadership. Today taking that stance is almost seen as being comic.”
When I read this it got me thinking about Divine Principle, specifically the Principle of Creation and the truth, beauty and goodness paradigm (the “big three” as American philosopher Ken Wilber calls them.) As Beal asserts, in contemporary culture these attributes are no longer given much credence, especially the moral and ethical aspects of art and its influence, and I believe we are socially and culturally poorer as a result. Assessing art from the perspective of the “big three” is not a new concept. The metaphysical aspect of music and art, as well as the moral and ethical dimensions (axiology) has fascinated philosophers and artists going back a few millennia.