What Good Are The Arts?
Professor John Carey's intellect is intimidating, reading "What Good Are the Arts?" I found myself making irrational, emotional responses when faced by the author's inexorable logic. In fact, by the end of "What Good Are the Arts?" even Carey seems trapped by his inescapable conclusions. In the first (and largest) section of the book Carey 'debunks' all manner of emotional and logically indefensible claims about 'Art' - from notions of high art to the idea of art as religion. Towards the end of the book so much rhetoric and hyperbole has been reduced to absurdity that we are left with some pretty unprepossessing answers to the book's title question. At this point Carey (after a quick disclaimer: "what follows may not be logically defensible ...") writes a brief, personal polemic re-establishing social and moral benefits for text based art and elevating literature above the visual arts. This book is intriguing, stimulating and inescapable - it deserves a place on every bookshelf - partly due to the author's towering intellect but ultimately because it proves emotional investment and lofty ideals remain fearsome opposition to logic.