Art as Pet, the Bargain Made to Live in Mutual Benefit

Art as Pet, the Bargain Made to Live in Mutual Benefit

I see a lot of comments online to the effect of “[animal1]—what did we do to deserve them?” Or, “we totally don’t deserve [animal2]s,” followed by a charming video of [animal]. I’m not immune to such memes.

But if you’ve read Rudyard Kipling’s “The Cat That Walked by Himself,” in which the prototypical titular cat gradually ingratiates himself to the woman—this was published in 1902, so, cats were naturally a girl thing—you’ll note that bargains are struck for a give-and-take relationship. Everyone gets value for their contribution.

It’s certainly possible to think of art, the work you make yourself, in this mutually beneficial way. And, like the cat, it’s wild, and aloof, and we don’t fully understand it.

But we strike the bargain, and we both give to and get an insane level of value from art. “Pet” is probably an inept label. Let’s say “companion.” We walk side-by-side and get closer the more effort and time we put in.

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