Can Humanity Survive Without the Arts?


Have you ever wondered? In an artist’s life, no matter which forms it takes, this question easily opens a can of worms. We have all been there. Discovering a flaw in our work and needing to solve it can cause despair. For a writer, it can be inane expressions or lame words. Worse if the situation happens after publishing.

It is frustrating, but it is worth it when you endeavour to rectify mistakes and avoid pitfalls. It is too easy to get complacent and think that everything is right. Once you know that you’ve conquered some blatant mistakes, from repetitions to plot mistakes or glaring idiocies, life seems so much better. We can’t allow our brains to fall asleep, and editing is a major part of our art. Something tells me that writing will remain a learning process, no matter how many books I write.

One must keep learning while working as an artist, writer, or performer. Nobody wants to stagnate, but self-satisfaction will mar any work. Yes, there are artists everywhere and on every path who couldn’t care less. They can even be successful for a while, but will their art last? Hardly. Only those who take their craft seriously and make an effort will remain when everything is said and done.


Of course, there isn’t such a thing as a perfect artist, actor, singer, musician, composer, poet, and or author. Everybody is human and never a machine. Anyway, it cannot be a question of perfection. Excellence is close enough.

Who knows where we will go next? This question gets more important with the emerging AI. Will the artful and skilled work of striving and artistic creators still have a place in society?

There are signs of a drop in interest in art. Does it matter? It’s a good question.


It reminds me of a Danish book, published in 1980, that I’ve read many times: Se Dagens Lys (Observe the Light of Day) by Svend Åge Madsen. In it, the author creates a world in which people live ‘perfect’ lives. That is, they experience an endless variety. Every day is a new beginning. Every day they have a new family, another job, and life has no aim. These people don’t understand why anybody would strive to become an expert in one subject alone, whether it be art, sport, or anything that involves an individual striving for excellence. They feel sorry for the hardship people endured, living as they did. Loving as they did. Maybe the most significant issue is that this world is managed by a computer, Madam Datam. In hindsight, that must’ve been his vision of AI.

Is it possible that we could go there? Are we already taking the first steps in that direction? If so, humanity would lose its soul. Not straight away, but without the arts, we can’t contemplate. We would lose the ability to think and reflect. Science too would suffer in such a society.

Look at history. Every dictator throughout time failed because of going too far. Every fad or fashion that diminished our humanity failed. Think of Witch hunts, think of holy wars, think of the Inquisition, and think of corsets, Lotus feet, or circumcision.

In the end, we might be doomed. With the situation in the US and Ukraine, everything could happen, and just one bomb would destroy the way we live now. Watching these tendencies is sad and worrying, knowing that a single person can’t do much to stem the tide.

Atomic Bomb

© HMH, 2023


2 responses to “Can Humanity Survive Without the Arts?”

  1. Debi Ennis Binder avatar

    Hanne, so frightening to even contemplate. If we lose the arts, how can we share ourselves with others, share the beauty, the sorrow, the love, the changes we encounter in our lives? My personal pleasures mean a great deal to me, but so does sharing those from others, whether or not I know them. How wonderful it is to make a new friend by learning we have ideas that mesh, or that are so opposite we can’t help but be intrigued. I learn so much from the minds of others through their art, poetry, novels, and non-fiction. I can’t imagine not ever having it at hand whenever I want it. Just so scary!

    1. Hanne H avatar
      Hanne H

      You’re right, not having the arts, we’d have few reference points. It would certainly hamper our communication.
      Not only that, it would make the world a sadder less colourful place.
      It isn’t just our ability to talk that makes us human, it is the perception and pleasure in beauty, friendships, and all the better things in life.

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