Is A.I. Art and Artificial? And, Is Art True Intelligence?

Dear Subscriber,

I was a Sports Editor. So shoot me. The sports folks had a lot more energy to see sports from different (many quite strange and not politically correct) perspectives. For example:

Would the National Basketball Association be as popular if it paid midgets and dwarfs (the “little people”) millions of dollars each to play? To me, it would be similar, and the small group would probably have fewer debilitating injuries, as they have less distance to fall and they aren’t built like race horses. Also, you would get a new audience of toddlers and people who can easily form personality cults around their favorite smaller players. Yes, there’s a tie-in for me. I wrote my Freak Story: 1967-1969 with a similar skewed and absurdist vision of reality. Check it out.


Sudan Civil War


And, I take war seriously. My father was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, and I was in the Armed Forces for a few years. Therefore, I get on a “high horse” sometimes, especially about those who send us to war:

When I listen to the super rich, quite often, they sound like the computers they represent. They speak in carefully parsed, logical, and straightforward language. Usually, it sounds to me like a spewing of 1 and 0 to make some meaning.
When they discuss the advent of this new round of Artificial Intelligence, which will probably displace millions of jobs and lower the standards and respect for what true artists actually do on the page or on the canvas, they have an impish smile on their faces.
They understand that most of their wealth came from the magic of computerization of reality into the symbolically “artificial” state of the world. Not just the “World Wide Web.” The world. Most of our industries and art forms have some tie-in with computers, and the super rich see it as a way to shuck needless jobs and make even more profits.
No more respect for the hours that artists spend at their craft. “Oh, that’s just copied from somewhere! How do I know this writer/artist did it him/her self?” Thus, the same flippant, icy stare comes upon the user of computers, and he/she/they become protectors of their tribal idols (BIOPIC and LGBTQ+) and fake theories and QAnon.
Reality of AI becomes the vision of the future, but a nightmare of so many in the developing world around us who don’t have lights and food enough to survive more than a week or day at a time.
The optimists pour out their love of future technologies changing everything and everyone for the betterment of humanity. And yet, historians know that it’s usually the same result, perhaps with different “toys.” The destructive “toys,” most certainly are more dangerous and distant and aimed at the heartland of everything humans and sentient beings hold precious.
Yes, I even wrote my own war story, set during the North American Civil War. I dedicated it to my torpedoman father, as I feature the first use of submarines and torpedoes in the plot! Sadly, he died (suicide) before he could read it.


Will A.I. Destroy True Art and the Artists Who Create?


I watched The Belle of Amherst, a very funny play from 1976, about Emily Dickinson. It was, indeed, filled with much more humor than the movie of 2006, A Quiet Passion. If there are folks who’ve read all the correspondence written by Emily, please tell if she was as witty and funny as they portray her in the play with Julie Harris as the lone actor. I believe it was, more likely, the genius of the play’s author, William Luce, using Emily’s writings and turning them into hilarious personal reflections concerning her life as a shut-in.

Perhaps Luce says it best, after all, without answering my question directly. I write historical mysteries, and most of my “realistic” creativity does what he discusses here. Quite often, modern audiences, especially with the advent of AI and ChatGPT, don’t fully appreciate the research authors do in order to inject creative “spirit” of the historical character(s) into the work:

I am often asked to explain the process by which I wrote The Belle of Amherst. It was a creative effort founded on intensive methodical research. For two years I read and reread the several biographical studies of Emily, the three-volume collection of her letters, and the three-volume variorum edition of her poems. During this study, I took extensive notes, culled dramatically workable anecdotes, poems, and excerpts from Emily’s letters; catalogued them under subject headings; rearranged them in a chronological pattern; and interwove them in a conversational style, blending my own words as seamlessly as possible, and with the cadence and color of Emily’s words. Gradually, Emily’s story emerged, as if she were telling it herself.

My colleagues — “The Emily Committee,” we called ourselves —
also pored over the Dickinson material, and their contribution to
the play was wonderfully inspiring and significant. Julie Harris,
Charles Nelson Reilly, and Timothy Helgeson are all Dickinson
students. Particularly, Julie’s familiarity with Emily resulted from
her years of dedicated research into her life and works; she also
recorded two albums of the letters and poems for Caedmon Records.

We all seemed joined together in love in this enterprise of simple
beauty. We felt it for Emily, for each other, and for the play. And we
feel it for the audiences who have taken our “Belle” to their hearts.

The Belle of Amherst is a love affair with language, a celebration of all that is beautiful and poignant in life. As it turns out, shy Miss Emily was writing for theater as surely as she breathed. In her every evocative phrase there is theatrical texture. On stage, the strange ways of Emily Dickinson become dramatic qualities in an arena large enough to give them the look of “divinest Sense.” Thus, the theater seems a thoroughly appropriate setting for Emily’s life and art, enabling actress and audience to “climb the Bars of Ecstasy” together.

Finally, for those of you who are into the heavy philosophical questions, then read the stories in my award-winning adult collection, Valley of the Dogs, Dark Stories. In that collection I have two stories that feature Lady GaGa. I heard her recently defending herself against critics who were comparing her to an earlier music star, Madonna. She was, of course, featuring how she created her particular “brand” of art, and she was quite vehement about it. This lead me to reflect the following, and perhaps you can think it out for me, as I’ve never really arrived at any sane conclusion:

The underlying curse of human achievement: “Value is a completely subjective interpretation of the human mind.”

Animals value food, procreation, survival, and shelter (not clothes–humans put those on them). Humans strive for more than that, so they use animals as their “sport,” “food,” and “entertainment.” Creatures in the world become our perpetual slaves, and soon our fellow human creatures take on the same sport and game: “Are you valuable to me?”

You are all valuable to me, as you are the only species and organism that can think about its own fate. All else, including animals, computers, and computer-like folks, attempt to find a way around paradoxes to benefit their own interpretations of “reality.”

Have a great rest of the week, and keep shining on (like the moon, and the stars, and the sun).

James Musgrave

San Diego, CA

Lennon and Ono: Instant Karma

Liked it? Take a second to support on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Popular Post