25 March 2010

Arts and Entertainment

As reassurance is the food of anxiety, entertainment is the food of depression.
— Gregory Bateson (Bateson and Bateson 1987, 132)

Entertainment is comfort food for the mind: a steady diet of it will turn you into a fathead. Genuine art, on the other hand, tends to push you beyond the comfort zone.

But of course the difference is not absolute. All art is entertaining to some degree, and all entertainment is to some degree artistic. Genuine artists may be good entertainers, and something intended to entertain you may open your eyes, even when you are content with being entertained. It all depends on the quality of attention you bring to it at the critical moment.