No Vital and Significant Forms of Art

Nor is it any part of my thesis to maintain that it [the detective story] is a vital and significant form of art.There are no vital and significant forms of art; there is only art, and precious little of that.

- Raymond Chandler

This quote appeared in an essay I was reading in the beginning of The Art of Murder. It struck me as particularly profound.

I think that is because this past summer I was outside in a public spot reading from my kindle and this random stranger came up to me to find out how it was. She was considering buying one or an iPad for herself. So she happens to mention she writes poetry, I mention I write fantasy and she gives me this look. This look, as in she had just stepped in something disgusting. She said something (rather unconvincingly!) about having something to do and ran off. I was left staring at her.

Clearly, she didn’t approve of fantasy. I can only imagine that’s because she doesn’t think fantasy is art, and a waste of time. Even a waste of time just talking to me; after all, she couldn’t leave fast enough. Well, I am not trying to create art, just something to entertain me, and maybe a few others. Not that I would object if it turned into art. If I polish enough, maybe something will turn into art. But I don’t really think you can write something with the intention of making art and actually produce art. The story comes first; the story is all; you (that is, me!!) need to learn how to tell the best story possible. Maybe then, just maybe, the story will become something more. As the guy says, there is precious little art. Probably because it is so damned difficult to produce.

So . . . yeah, reading that little quote in the essay soothed my ego. Obviously the girl’s speedy departure made an impression on me. She really shouldn’t have; she was a perfect stranger and there is no reason for me to care.