On Art and Entertainment

“More, not less, is the capacity of the heart. More not less is the capacity of art.”

-Jeanette Winterson




en·ter·tain·ment, entərˈtānmənt/


  1. the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment
  2. an event, performance, or activity designed to entertain others
  3. amusement or diversion provided especially by performers
  4. something diverting or engaging: a (1) a public performance, or (2) a usually light comic or adventure novel


amusement, pleasure, leisure, recreation, relaxation, fun, enjoyment, interest, diversion, show, spectacle, production, extravaganza, pageant, performance, presentation


Art can be something “diverting or engaging.” Art can even be entertaining, but it is not entertainment. Art may look decorative, but it is not decoration. (If you are confused by this statement, think about art the way you think about books— you may put art in your living space the way you put books on your bookshelf. Some are special ones that may have had an impact on you, or are from a particular phase in your life. Some are simply “diverting or engaging” or entertaining. Maybe someone gave it to you, or maybe a loved one wrote it. Books don’t match the upholstery.)

If not entertainment, what is it?

Art is a form of communication and makes use of languages (visual, verbal, and bodily.)

Art is communicating for the sake of relating to one another, for trying to achieve understanding, or for making sense of experiences and observations. Because,

1. We are each alone.

2. We each experience the world in a totally subjective manner. (You cannot really know what I am experiencing physically, cognitively, emotionally, sensually and I cannot really know what you are experiencing.)

3. But, we achieve an illusion of intersubjectivity through language.

4. Language is verbal, visual, and physical.

Through language we relate our experiences and observations and have them confirmed or challenged by others. Even though I cannot experience your reality, I can think about it and then feel like I have some understanding. I can relate to you. I can feel compassion. I can reflect on what I’ve learned and relate it to myself. I can empathize.

We connect.

Through language (in the broadest sense of the term) I am able recognize your humanity.

Through art (in the broadest sense of the term) I am able to recognize your humanity.


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