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Michael Laitman, PhD

How the Arts Can Model New Attitudes

“We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”

--Pablo Picasso


As important as media is to our culture, it cannot make the required shift in spirit all by itself. To complete the shift in our thinking, we must engage actors, singers, and other public idols and celebrities in the process. Their productions are displayed not only on television, but also on the Internet, in movie theatres, and on the radio, and are vital to getting the new message across.

It is hard to predict exactly how the arts will develop once we become familiar with the giving half of reality. Because we have never tried it on a large scale, we cannot tell how things will unfold once unity and giving are in vogue. The ideas below will describe possible shifts in cinema and theatre, but the rules that apply to this art form also apply to the more traditional arts such as painting and sculpturing.

The visual arts are the most powerful means of influence. Up to 90 percent of the information we receive on our surroundings is visual information. For this reason, a shift in our thinking must begin with what we see, even before we change what we hear.

On the surface, the plots of most movies and plays can remain pretty much the same: a fight for a just cause, a love story, or even a tragedy. But behind each plot should be a subtext that conveys a message of unity.

Today, when we leave the theatre or shut off the DVD, we are usually left with a sense of admiration for the hero. It is very rare that we contemplate an idea, a concept or an ideology after the movie. This often happens even if the movie does convey an idea, because the props, visual effects, script, and other elements in the film aim to create identification with a person, not with a way of life.

If we examine the plots of most blockbusters, we will arrive at an inevitable conclusion: heroes sells, ideas don’t. This may have been true until recently, but in today’s reality, people will need movies and plays either to forget about their troubles or to muster strength and hope for the future. And if done right, the latter will prevail by far.

If we watch movies from the 1950s and 60s, they often seem naïve to us, a bit out of touch with the “real life.” Quite soon, viewers will watch the films made today and see them as out of touch, too. To succeed, art must reflect current situations, and today’s news is unity, or balance, between the desire to receive and the desire to give.

There have been many apocalyptic films describing how humanity has destroyed the planet and is being punished for its sins with chaos, endless heat waves, war, and depletion of food and water. But art should not confine itself to doomsday images. Instead, it should provide information about the full picture of reality—the two forces in life, how they interact, what happens if we tip the balance, and what happens if we help to sustain it. Otherwise, arts, and especially the very popular visual arts, will not achieve their objectives: to inform us of life’s two forces and to show us how we can balance them.

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