Life Imitates Art
It’s a simple theory but hard to believe. Anti-mimesis is a concept that, in its essence, just means works of creativity influence reality, at least our perception of it, much more commonly than the contrary. Oscar Wilde, probably the most acclaimed advocate for this philosophy, best described his opinions in his essay The Decay of Lying stating that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.
A well-known example of this is The Simpsons unknowing predictions of the future and the fact that they, more than a number of times, seem to come true almost exactly as presented in their show. They predicted the election of Donald Trump into office, the censorship of Michelangelo’s David, the Higgs Boson Equation and much more all years before they actually happened. Is it a creepy coincidence or an imitation?
Of course, the above stated example does not directly encapsulate the idea of Anti-Mimesis. More applicable is the instance of detective techniques used by the character Hercule Poirot (authored by Agatha Christie) also used by real-world detectives. Or the famous murders in the books of Sherlock Holmes(Arthur Conan Doyle) mimicked by actual wannabe killers. Even the wrist communicators used in the original Star Trek TV show inspired the invention of portable communication devices, also known as mobile phones.
It doesn’t stop there. This is further emphasized in cinema where it is commonplace to directly reference literature and art works in scripts and frames. Even instances of other frames are often attributed in different films.
Music too is a gateway to an orchestra of ideas and philosophies. It has proven to have directly and indirectly influenced forums of thought in the periods of time preceding and during The Renaissance, leading to advances and changes in social constructs and society as a whole. Music also holds the power to change the way an individual views the world.
Anti-Mimesis still holds a strong position in societal views today. With the general population, almost always having exposure to some form of media or entertainment. The easy promotion of an artist’s own work and the convenient accessibility to such stuff allows for a greater audience to view and experience the thoughts an artist wishes to throw out into the world. But the downside of this is the rise of ‘mainstream media’ which allows the growth of predominant artists and prevents the recognition smaller up-and coming artists. It also saturates the market with the same and similar kind of techniques preventing any development in any form of artistry. With everyone, being exposed to the same matters, it is only logical that the public will think the same. Is this good? Or bad? Maybe the answer is not so binary.
The Commonality of opinions, thoughts and feelings among a people, pose a few hindrances in the development in thought process as a community. The common views of a people are primarily location-based. With cultures originally and only having experienced literary works in their language. Which begs the question, does language affect the way we think? Maybe a question for another day.
A number of dominant opinions held today would not even be dreamed of if it weren’t for the evolution of thought in popular media. For example, even just 50 years ago, nowhere in India would the idea of anything other than an arranged marriage be entertained. Although this notion is still predominant in modern India, the views are fast-changing. This can be credited to the introduction of western media, especially film, where the common practice is the freedom in choice of marriage.
A more philosophical understanding of the term Anti-Mimesis, is its direct application to our own understanding of our environment and the way we view it. More specifically, how we enjoy it.
If you walked among a field of ten thousand daffodils, would you relish their presence? Or simply pass by. Perhaps you would enjoy them, but the enjoyment may be enhanced if you’ve read ‘Daffodils’ (William Wordsworth). Or perhaps not. Maybe you prefer staring at the moon and the marvelous beauty it beholds, like the hundreds of poets that have marveled and written about the same. Maybe you’ve read some of them. Would you view the world the same way you do now if you’ve never indulged in a form of art?
Would you see your partner in the same set of eyes if not for the decades of romance movies dominant in today’s world, or the centuries of romance novels before?
Would the natural beauty of most everything in the world today still exist if the beauty not invented by Art? Perhaps it would. I doubt it.
About the Author -
Karthik Babu is a 16 year old Arts student from Bishop Cottons Boys' School, the Editor-in-Chief at Klimt Media and an amateur artist and writer.