At a time like this, with the children leaving and my redundancy looming, I find myself thinking, what is the function of art? I am finding in this confusing time that my emotional reaction to drama and poetry is more intense than I have experienced for many years. Sometimes it crashes through me like a wave.
Does this bring anything to my life, except a relief from it? Does it enhance my power or fitness? Or does it simply ameliorate the pain that is an unwanted secondary effect of being an intelligent animal? I'm talking about its function for humans in general here, not just for me. Does the art that human beings make and consume have any benefits at all, apart from soothing the same feelings that give rise to it? A closed system?
Is art some kind of paracetamol of the soul, which helps us to endure, or more like a penicillin that heals, or even a performance-enhancing drug? I'm hoping it's the mental equivalent of steroids. Yes, I will be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of aesthetics: over-pumped.