On one occasion, I was selected along with some other students to participate in a nationwide competition for outstanding students. We had taken many special lessons in many fields of knowledge. At the Art section, one of the Art teachers asked us: “what is the definition of Art?” no one answered. Then, I tried to just through any answer to break the silence of the group; “Art is how to express your feelings,” I said. Unexpectedly, the teacher said: exactly, the art is a tool of expression. “It is how to express yourself outside of yourself. It is the way to express feelings that you cannot explicit or reveal, he added. He continued to elaborate by saying that art gives you an alternative way of expression by producing a certain feeling through a piece of art. It could be a painting, a poem, a song, or a story.
After two decades, here I am reading Boyd’s book about the origin of stories. It is not the same argument. However, I think the author complicated the notion of art in the time it seems to be kind of obvious. I still remember the stories that have been transmitted to us by our ancestors regarding their lives prior to the discovery of oil. They used as most people in the Arabian Peninsula, to live in a desert. They used to suffer hunger, thirst, and weakness for days and months. Despite that, they lived these situations positively and productively with their imaginations. They used to draw dreams and feel the fiction that has become our reality. Many of my elderly relatives told me how they spent parts of their days and nights chanting for the nature, narrating tales of thirst and hunger that were exhausting their bodies. They made use of their imagination and fiction to turn a blind eye to their hard and troublesome lives. Dramatically, they have instilled hope in the depth of tragedy through the optimism and the rejection of grief.
Overall, I am not quite sure if I would agree or disagree with Boyd. Anyhow, the people of desert, despite their suffering, have created pieces of art. The inherited heritage we have, as Arabs, reflected the harsh life our ancestors had lived. We got this through their poetry, stories, and in changing heartbreaking tunes. Art is simple when it is the creation of the culture.