When did “fun” become a four-letter word? When did “excitement” become something to sneer at? When did pleasing the audience become despised as the font of all evil?
(Don’t answer. I don’t care. That’s not the point.)
Entertainment—now follow me here, because the argument gets a little labyrinthine—entertainment is meant to ENTERTAIN. It’s meant to whisk the audience away to another world in their minds, to take their attention off the very real problems that plague their lives, to give them respite from the burdens of this fallen world. That is a HOLY mission. It is an act of mercy, an act of charity. Like buying a poor kid an ice cream cone, it is an act of kindness that makes someone’s life a little bit better. Only with a book or comic, you can lift the spirits of THOUSANDS.
I cannot overstate my contempt for the notion that “escapism” is something dirty and worthless, the least of all creative endeavors. That is purest horsedung, the Platonic form of horsedung, the primal source of horsedung from which all other horsedung emerges.
Escapism, as a goal, is not the least of artistic endeavors: it is among the greatest. There is but one that stands higher: the quest for beauty.
Modern society hates beauty.
We debase beauty, using the wonder of the female form to provoke lust, we mock beauty, calling things beautiful that clearly aren’t, and parody beauty, using all our arts to create that which is ugly, which debases, which coarsens and corrupts. We are a fallen culture, in whom the love of beauty has (among our intelligentsia, artists, and much of the population) been replaced by a love of the ugly, the repellent, and the perverse. Wherever beauty can be found, we mar it, destroy it, or secret it away so even the very memory of that which is beautiful is lost forever.
Beauty enlightens, it inspires, it uplifts. It can be a stunning dance piece, a soaring musical composition, a captivating portrait, a glorious work of architecture, an arresting sculpture, or a piece of fiction so true and exquisite it moves one to tears.
Above all, beauty evokes awe, that quiet, still, yet all-penetrating silence of the soul. Awe is reverence and wonder, a recognition that there are things that transcend this muddy world of toil and pain, that there are greater things than these which surround us, that we are meant for more than just the bitter struggle to survive. Awe connects us with the transcendent, with the infinite, with the divine. In moments of awe, even non-believers sense the presence of something greater than themselves.
Which is why the wretches and brutes MUST destroy beauty, must destroy that which is beautiful and must destroy even our ability to discern what is truly beautiful. Without beauty, men become brutes and wretches like them, and that is an outcome devoutly to be desired by the wretched and brutal.
Wretches rule traditional publishing, music, movies, and TV, and comic books. They have utterly obliterated the art world, and erected a grim parody of it on the ground where once it stood. Their tendrils run through every art school, department of philosophy, and College of Humanities in the entire Western world. Even many churches have succumbed. Beauty can scarce be found anywhere, and even the love of beauty is fading as we begin to love that which is—to put it mildly—not beautiful at all.
It need not be so.
We can create beautiful works. We can foster beauty. We can seek after it, and champion it. We can be its preservers, its protectors, its advocates. We can make beauty, and embed it in our art, and smuggle it out into the world, to brighten the lives of others.
It is a great and noble thing to entertain others. It is a greater thing to craft something of great beauty, that provokes awe in all who behold it. But to do both, well… as an entertainer, author, or artist, this one thing is greatest of all.