Why we like art

Listening to a 'Science Friday' podcast today, one of the guests spoke about why we like certain things. (he wrote a book) The essence of his theory is that what we like is often based on the context of a thing, rather than the thing in and of itself. I think this idea is something that most people have an intuitive sense of being true and it certainly resonated with my own way of thinking.
Listening to him, I was reminded of something I once wrote about aesthetics. Similar to his idea, but applied specifically to art. Four years ago when I put it in writing, the idea was still kind of new to me and I have since fleshed it out more thoroughly in my mind, however, I don't feel enough motivation right now to write it out, instead I will copy and past the original:

when visiting my brother he made a comment to my sister and I about how we may not even like his art if it was not made by him. i realized it is probably impossible to tell, but even if it is so i don't think it means my like for his art is any less real. isn't that all art is anyway? associations? i know i have numerous times grown to like a certain piece or certain type of art because i grow to associate it with a certain person or idea.
i think we can have conditioned associations: our bodies relating a piece to a certain experience, person or idea and also inherent associations like images that evoke nature or sex, things most people have evolved to be naturally drawn to.
our bodies might see certain shapes, lines or colors and associate them with things it knows might make them feel good or pleasant experiences or people from the past, or conversly if the artist is attempted to create a negative association. so it is my opinion that art is merely creating associations for people allowing others to transcend the world we normally associate with into one more purely based on the emotion trying to be expressed. transcending the body and creating a more pure emotional communication. more pure because it is less confined than words have a tendency to be, which can express an idea but often not the emotion behind the idea.
so an important relationship can exist between art and words. you can explain to someone a concept, then if a piece of art is accurately executed, it can then convey the emotion of that concept. i think this is what is called art.


Human inertia

One thing about myself which isn't necessarily a new observation, but has become increasingly more apparent to me is my short-term addictive personality.
I have noticed this trait stand out more as I get older, which may be because I have inherited this trait from my father and genes become more manifest as we age. (which may be one part of why we recognize more of our parents in ourselves as we age.)

Similar to my father, this attribute can be good and bad. I remember my dad becoming addicted to Ms. Pacman when it was a recent arcade game. I don't remember how long this lasted, maybe a few months or less, but after that he never played again (as far as I know). But that non-stop passion could be directed positively as well, like when he would begin a home project, such as building a deck, once he started, he would use all of his free time until the project was finished.

This is similar to how I operate. I tend to be really into one thing at a time, and will spend much or all of my free time working on it. Often times this is to my advantage. If I am working on an art or writing project, I become deeply wrapped up in it, to the point where I honestly feel I can't stop. If I am in painting zone, I may not even read a book during this time because I crave painting too much.

Because a considerable degree about creative pursuits is just having the motivation to actually do and complete the project, and I am trying to have a career in the arts, I generally find this to be advantageous. Because it is generally beneficial, I wouldn't consider it to be a true addiction in these particular circumstances, but I think it comes from a similar place.

However, I also I find myself being totally drawn into things I would rather not be.
For example, a couple weeks ago, I was happy and surprised to find a copy of the computer game "Civilization 3" for a Mac at the Free Store.(It is kind of like a little Goodwill except everything is free. It is part of the Co-op)

I am not a gamer. At all.Other than a game-boy I haven't owned a gaming system since the Nintendo 64, in high school. The only computer game I can remember seriously playing was also in High School,(there were some other games I played casually at friends houses) and that was Civilization 2 and I loved it, which is why I was stoked to find a free copy of it's sequel compatible for a Mac! FREE!

I ended up spending every free moment of the next three days playing this game until I finished it. I had a lot of fun playing the first day and some fun the second day, but by the third day, I hardly even enjoyed myself, It had become a true addiction in the sense that I couldn't stop despite it having negative effects on my life. Fortunately this was only 3 days. Since finishing the game I haven't felt any desire to play it or any other video game.

One disadvantage to this is that if I am in one mode, for example writing, but need to be in a painting mode for an assignment or an upcoming gallery show, I can't always switch gears at will. In a sense it is the ability switch gears at will which is the problem.

The examples I have given refer to how I spend my free time, but it can apply to other things as well. Case in point, I was addicted to tobacco for about 2.5 months and then later for about one month. One time I got so into nachos that I spend a week eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Although I am unfortunate to have addictiveness within me, I suppose it is fortunate that when it is something unhealthy, it doesn't last long. And I am happy I am able to channel this attribute in positive ways. However, I wish that instead of spending one full month painting, then two weeks reading, then a week writing, then a week knitting, then a week watching some Tv show on Dvd from start to finish, then back to painting etc., I could spend some of each day doing a few or all of these things. I think I have gotten better at this with age. When I had a nice studio at Evergreen it really helped. I was able to set aside 4-10 hours each day to work in the studio, then come home and leave it behind me at the studio. At least I have conditioned myself to do chores daily (dishes, plant watering, etc) instead of waiting until it builds up then doing it all at once, like when I was younger.

I remember my father once described himself as having too much inertia, which I think is a good description of this attribute. Once the ball begins to roll in one direction, we have a difficult time stopping it until it reaches an end point. Sometimes that is good, sometimes it is bad, sometimes it is something in between. But at least the end point is never too far off. I would imagine many people have some variation of this characteristic.