Currently there are two separate, widely shared opinions on art. Some people expect art to propel them from reality into a world of fantasy, beauty and noble feelings where everything is clear and transparent, even if mysterious, heroes and heroines use a sublime language different from real languages, which does not have gross words; where instead of the chaos and anarchy of reality, moral rules and divine plans apply, the guilty are punished and the innocent are rewarded. Every girl finds her husband, and the wages of sin is death. A Die Hard film or an episode of CSI are the most faithful proponents of this view: science and justice hand in hand enforce order in this created world.
Other people, however, expect art to light the darkness of reality, the depths we could otherwise never see; to show the seemingly chaotic zigzag of power lines of the present and to make us face what we do not wish to see because it contradicts what we think we know. Should it be victory or defeat that art talks about, it should refrain from teleology and theology, and should free us from our own lies. It should reveal our discriminatory views, prejudices, chase away superstition and show the enormous complexity of truth.
In the first framework, the artist is an illusionist, a magician; in the other he is – no mistake: in the second – a philosopher or priest. Free us from lies and show the truth is an even more sacred task, if you like, than comfort the public with white lies.
I confess that I like both genres. I think that both the playful superficiality of operettas and the plain and ruthless search for truth are valid at the same time, and I cannot relate to people who adopt only one of these frameworks. Just like my political views, my opinion on art is eclectic, and I am impertinent enough to be proud of it.
Yet, the question still might be if there is a way out. Or if there is any kind of way. If we can talk about truth without the priest’s gown or create something without the magician’s cloak. Is there a truth that you spell out or a lie that you uncover which then does not re-create just that system of lies you intended to uncover? Or shall we not be so strict?
The answer is, as it is always, in front of us. In the sense that it is not behind us, it did not happen sometime in the past, we cannot refer to it like to a synod, to the year a certain theory was invented or an event in world history took place; we have to create it continuously, probably without the hope that this creation can ever lead to a final result which we can leave to next generations as a finished and closed event.
The document is an act of testimony. We testify that something happened in the way and at the place as it did. Luckily, however, what the mind regards as an event real and therefore to be documented keeps changing; what counts as story and event. In the past miracles were documented, and men searched for justification in the telltale signs of reality to underpin the stories that took place in their minds: the pillars of Hercules, the chains of Prometheus, tears of the Virgin, flight of Simon the Magician, chains of Saint Peter, Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat. Our mind today does not find in these stories anything to tell or document. Yet, what has not changed at all is that it is hard to find the traces. It is reality’s nature to hide. More accurately: the inclination to lie. Whatever the subject is from the fall of a dictatorship to what it is like to be different, our procedure includes investigation, reconnaissance, hearing witnesses and collecting secret information. As if today the essence of the world was not the kinds of events that are apparent like miracles were once but which are hidden like the Nazi crimes, the communist secret agents, the undefeatable prejudices. For me the most exciting is to watch how our regard on the world changes, and where we see secrets, hidden meaning and truth to be told and show to the world.
This is what points out the most obviously where our fears are.
I wish that these films help us to better know ourselves, for in reality we are only able to see what we have already known. Every story told, every truth revealed means only as much as we can grasp. And this learning is the most exciting adventure of human existence.