Covid-19, Leonardo Da Vinci and The Role of Art during Revolution

Updated: May 20

Covid-19 quarantine has made me look at art in a deeper sense, outside of entertainment. I really wish more people understood how important art is, especially during turbulent times. A lot of capitalism is people trying to persuade each other. And people often take extreme measures to persuade each other. Even using physical aggression to persuade each other with things like war. In life we are constantly vying for change. Nothing humans have done has caused more change than art. The written word should be viewed like magic for the revolutions it’s started. Music has been used as the soundtrack of people’s ambitions, goals, dreams and wars.


"Art and Revolution" (German title "Die Kunst und die Revolution") is a long essay by the composer Richard Wagner, originally published in 1849. It sets out some of his basic ideas about the role of art in society and the nature of opera. Wagner notes that artists complain that economic uncertainty following the 1848 revolutions has damaged their prospects. But he believed such materialistic complaints are selfish and unjustified. Those who practiced art for art's sake also suffered when others were rejoicing. He therefore undertakes an examination of the role of art in society.


For Wagner the revolution consists of a not very clearly defined return to Nature. Elements of this are a condemnation of the rich and promoting 'the mechanic's pride in the moral consciousness of his labour as opposed to the criminal passivity or immoral activity of the rich'. Wagner's goal is 'the strong fair Man, to whom Revolution shall give his Strength, and Art his Beauty!' Wagner then talks about and berates those who dismiss his ideas as utopian. Wagner goes on to reconcile his two main inspirations, he concludes 'Let us therefore erect the altar of the future, in Life as in the living Art, to the two sublimest teachers of mankind:—Jesus, who suffered for all men; and Apollo, who raised them to their joyous dignity!' That means we should have the goodness and lack of attachment to material that Jesus and many messiahs and spiritual leaders represent in their respective religions, but we should also think like Apollo, who was recognized as a god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the sun, light, poetry, and more, and create a better world through our art.


And during our times of economic and global turmoil I look back at Wagners work and I don’t believe his ideas are utopian. Poet Bill Tremblay was quoted as saying: “the war is against the imagination.” Tremblay said, “A world without imagination is a world of spiritual poverty, a diminished world, a world where the sun never shines.” Franco Berardi echoes this sentiment in his book, The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance. Berardi argues that tinkering with capitalism is not going to bring about a more just and equitable world. Instead, he is looking to poets to reshape the global imagination, so that humanity can honestly address our environmental, political, and economic crises, without constantly resorting to war. All modern artists are those poets. It is our duty to create during turbulent times.


Insecurity is behind most of the turmoil humans cause to each other. We’re insanely insecure middle schoolers with our shirts on in the pool, trying to make ourselves comfortable. We have to speak about what it is to be a person and let each other know it’s okay to authentically be ourselves instead of feeling the need to posture with wealth, weaponry and status. I think one thing we should leave corona quarantine with is security within ourselves. These are turbulent times where the economy looks shaky, the politicians look shady and you can't really have trust in authority. So have trust and security within ourselves. Lets educate ourselves, teach ourselves self sufficiency and better ourselves instead of waiting for some savior.


Men, look at yourselves. Look in the mirror right now. No shape up, beard growing out all patchy, crust in the corner of your eyes. That’s what we all are. Outside of your posing and your acts of grandeur, underneath all of it, you’re still just a musty, insecure little monkey with hair growing everywhere. We need to get over ourselves.


But we’re out here puffing out our chests trying to win this invisible chess match. And that’s when our egos lash out to protect us from feeling vulnerable. Because we’re insecure. And if more people could open up and say that, we’d have a much doper world. Corporations use human insecurity to sell us products and further the destruction of the industrial machine on the planet and depletion of the planets resources for profit, the insecurity keeps us working for the corporations and fighting each other for positions of power, to purchase products because we think those products will fill up our self inflicted insecurities, and those products end up destroying the planet and ourselves. It all stems down to insecurity.


If more people just sat down and talked about what it really is that we want out of life, and we just focused on crafts and ideas that we think are the most important thing that human beings need to accomplish, we’d be so much less resentful and so much more resourceful. Once you pick up a difficult task and master it, you are more secure with yourself and understand you can complete difficult tasks, and so you respect yourself more and become more secure with who you are.


We’re too focused on bureaucracy and self preservation in every field of industry and society. We need to question why countries like the U.S spend 726 billion on weapons and defense each year instead of spending it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world. If more people spent the same amount of energy that we put into social dominance into social progression, how far would we be as a species? If more individuals applied themselves and dedicated themselves to crafts that they believe will genuinely make a difference in the world and make the world a better place, how far along would we be?


That’s what corona quarantine taught me and that’s the knowledge I’m gonna carry with me throughout my life outside of it. I’m gonna try to love you unconditionally because I love myself. And that way I’ll be more secure with myself and focus on what the world needs as opposed to what I lack and creating a better world through my art and ideas. And maybe that’s what the world needs.


I truthfully think we should research what humanity as a species is, what it needs and work towards that goal. We should work in collaboration to help the betterment and forwarding of the species. What would make the coolest possible world to live in? And that’s where the artists, scientists and inventors need to step up. We need to lead the revolution into creating something real and dope. Something that will make our existence cooler. And all of that starts with loving ourselves and then each other. Becoming more secure with ourselves and learning new disciplines and mastering different crafts. And then maybe that creates a society where we build spacecrafts that go past the known universe, unlock answers to the multiverse and the origins of dark matter, study the 98 percent of the Ocean that we know nothing about and find out what’s going on with all of these UFO sightings. We could make dope inventions, better art, better food and better experiences.


We were so blinded by scarcity, materialism and politicization for the last few hundred years and now look where that has brought us. It’s self destructive. We have to come together and focus on developing ideas to lead us into the coolest possible future. And that’s when the imagination needs to be exercised. Everything we have in our world is an idea. Ideas were all the technology and survival techniques that have brought us to where we are. Rockets are ideas, phones are ideas, computers are ideas. Everything is an idea. Our pre-corona world only allowed a small percentage of the population to actualize their ideas because people were acting based on survival. But we don’t have to live in survival mode if we don’t live in a world of status and overindulgence.


Many social issues are, but not every social issue within capitalism is an issue solely based on the tangible ramifications of the disparity of wealth between the classes. Many problems are because of the self inflicted inferiority complex and ideas of luxury and class that exist within the minds of the individuals of the society. How many of us with the luxury of youth that live in a society where the majority of the population including ourselves and family aren't starving, and have direct access to an infinite amount of information, are doing something meaningless every single day? The reasons vary, we do it because it’s a safe option, because we’re scared of minimalism, because we refuse to educate ourselves and dedicate ourselves to a craft, and because we’re afraid of taking a chance at being self sufficient. How many of us are choosing to follow the path of mediocrity on purpose? How many of us are selecting bare minimum lives by following bare minimum paths? And by bare minimum I don't mean bare minimum wealth. I mean bare minimum self fulfillment and accomplishment? How many of us constantly feel like we are willingly wasting potential? How many of us know what we are capable of but fall short of that ideal because we fear failure? How many of us focus on our individual comforts and instant gratification instead of the betterment of ourselves and our species? And so we settle for meaningless jobs in order to get by and be safe and comfortable. And in our free time we waste away our only luxury, time.


Well here is your time to avoid meaninglessness and create meaning. Create what is most meaningful, positive and necessary with your skill-set. And we don’t need to be rich to do that. We just have to be driven towards dopeness for the species and culture. We’re gonna turn this whole bitch back to Rome during the Renaissance period with people around the world attempting to achieve their maximum potential like the Vitruvian Man. And that’s what I’m trying to do. That's the journey I'm embarking on as a 21 year old black man. That’s how I’m trying to change the world. By actualizing my full potential while I’m alive.


Leonardo Da Vinci is a prime example of the Renaissance man model that I believe we should strive for. From iconic paintings like “Mona Lisa'' and “The Last Supper” to designs for flying machines and ground-breaking studies on optics and perspective, Leonardo fused science and art to create works that have become part of humanity’s story. He got to scientific revelations, like airplanes, that modern science didn’t pick up on till hundreds of years later in the 1900s. Da Vinci gave a fuck about furthering the species and so do we. I believe we have a duty to do so. To fight with each other is a disservice to the purpose of our DNA, which is survival and progression.


So big man, relax your chest and put your shoulders and that gun down, pick up a computer and figure out how you can work on furthering the human species, and then get to it. Write down every single idea you have, and go for the dopest seeming ones. How cool would it be if we were living in a world of flight suits and cool experiences, where more people just make dope stuff that furthers humanity. That means cool art, dope movies, innovative music, advancements in medicine and new understandings of physics, math, space-time and dimensions, but also inventions like teleportation devices, telekinesis devices, hoverboards and cool shit like that. Instead we out here being ghetto, fighting over rolls of toilet paper at grocery stores.


Corona quarantine has taught me to attempt to achieve my maximum potential as a human being, for the furtherance and positive evolution of humanity through my art and ideas, during my time alive. And if you think like me, I think you should too. It’s a worthy cause to attempt during your lifetime, you’re not doing anything better with your time. And the games gonna kill you any way, might as well play the best game you can. Going forward I’m just gonna be doing what fuels me creatively, learning everything that interests me, creating stuff and telling stories that I think could make the world a doper place to be in, pondering and philosophizing reality, staying healthy and doing stuff I find fun with the people I love. I won’t be creating inauthentic art for the sake of commerce and I'll make sure to create something that I truly believe is dope, and I’ll treat people well and have authentic experiences and relationships. Everything else is moot. Bureaucracy and status are dead, with me at least. You’re a person and I’ll treat you in the best possible way with the presupposition that you have inherent value off the basis that you’re another person. Because that’s how I believe I can help achieve the best possible future. Maybe if more people in the world focused on solving the world's problems and creating a cooler world, there would be a cooler world with less, or at least a new set of problems to solve, that will lead to the coolest possible world. I think everything else is bullshit.


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