“All art is quite useless” —Oscar Wilde, Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray
That Wilde fellow is an imbecile. Art and books no use! Bah! The fellow should be locked up and tried in a canon court for blasphemy. Art has more use than that man’s absurd “wit” does. And a good deal more than an automobile or plow. Where would we be without Art, I ask you? Nowhere, Goddamn it, nowhere! We would not even have the automobile without it.
I, myself, am a painter and can honestly say that I declaim thus not for my own benefit, nor to boost my sales, but for the betterment of society. Only the other day, I was in my studio, painting a scene I intend to title “Truth Presenting a Mirror to the Vanities of the World,” and found myself a little wanting.
There was truth, mantled in gold and blue and white, there were her scales and there, her mirror, and the skull on the table reflected in the mirror. But something was wrong. Off, you might say. I realized the skull was too dark. All attention was drawn to Truth’s sleeve and not the gruesome remains of some poor soul. So, stumbling about my studio looking for some light-colored object which I could, without detracting from my theme, place under the skull, I came upon an edition of Herodotus bound in a lovely calfskin.
Immediately, I inserted it under the skull and all was remedied. Light played well on it and brightened the skull. My problem was solved. And quite neatly, too. Critics will tear their hair over why the bloody book was included. I’d tell them about the lighting, but they’d not believe me. They are of a kind like to Mr. Wilde and believe art useless and therefore argue over it to no end. They’ll not listen to me when I tell then I’ve solved their dilemma. Art does have use. I find the Mona Lisa makes a very adequate doorstop.