Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles Nov 2019

Monday, July 6, 2009


The Arts

Following on from the previous 'Arts' entry, look at this example of how one art form interweaves with another. In 2001, the American artist Mark W. McGinnis read Tagore's Gitanjali and was inspired to create a painting for each of the verses in the book. You can view a selection of paintings on McGinnis's website (click the painting above) and can also read what he has to say about his experience of discovering Tagore's poetry here:

McGinnis gives an insight into the nature of art in the statement that Tagore's poems "deeply and beautifully describe the human search for the eternal."

So we have two important criteria for what art strives to do (good art, that is), at least for this modern artist: represent 'beauty' and the 'search for the eternal'. I expect many of McGinnis's contemporaries would scoff at this old-fashioned return to traditional values. What do you think?

McGinnis goes on to explain what he intended to achieve with his paintings: "The paintings are not meant to be illustrations of the verses, but images inspired by the poetry and my understanding of the creative mind behind them."

So, McGinnis isn't trying to re-present the poems into another form; he isn't attempting to copy somehow the beauty of the poems into his paintings or to illustrate the hidden essence of the poems' eternal qualities. He is transforming the original poetry into something entirely new; the meaning of each poem takes on a different, yet related, existence in the art work; each painting expresses creatively the artist's experience of another creative mind at work. The creative process involves a kind of metamorphosis of the world through art.

Are we to take the artist's intentions into account when we judge the quality of his paintings? What does McGinnis's statement tell us about the artistic process or craft? What does a work of art gain or lose by being transformed into another form?

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