Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Whole Ball of Wax

       In his piece The Whole Ball of Wax, Jerry Saltz reflects upon whether or not art has the power to change the world.  For me, his article is conflicting because while I do agree with the author that art has the power to change the world, I do not fully agree with how he explains art. Saltz believes that art does not directly have the power to change the world, a claim which he supports by saying that art by itself can not  do things like end climate change or prevent the spread of AIDS. The power art has to change the world relies on the power that art has on us. Art has the power to effect what we feel and believe about ourselves and the universe, which is why Saltz believes that art is a universal force of energy. Later on in his writing, Saltz also critiques Descartes model in regards to art which states, "I think, therefor I am," he argues instead that art is not about understanding it is about experiencing and so the model should be "I experience, therefor I am." I believe that art does have a big impact on understanding, and while people could experience the same piece of art, each individual might walk away from that experience having completely different understandings and feelings about the art. Up until that point in his piece, I already was slightly annoyed with Jerry Saltz's writing and his arguments. When reading his article, I was finding that for each of the arguments he was making, I usually would agree with the first part of the argument but then Saltz would try to stretch his argument too far and the last half of most of his arguments were not something I agreed with and often involved him pointing out his negative opinions on peoples beliefs. In his piece he not only calls people thought police, which is ironic because to me it seems that is what he is being, but he also says things which make it seem like he believes that he is one of the few people who is right about what art is and what it does. When still talking about the Descartes model he refers to many other people in the art world and says "they wrongly believe that art is about understanding, when, like almost everything else in the everyday world, art is about experience." He does not say that is what he believes to be true, or that that is what art is for him, he states that everyone else is wrong and that what his opinion is, is a fact. Overall it was an interesting piece and I agree that art has the power to change the world, but I do not really see eye to eye with all of what Jerry Saltz argues.


  1. I agree that Saltz's article is conflicting. I went back and forth with agreeing with him. His point were almost too contrasting for my taste. I guess this is just his style of writing. In the beginning when he mentioned AIDS and the presidential elections, I reflected on history classes and agreed. So it was hard for him to persuade me the answer was actually no.

  2. I totally agree that Saltz is being a hypocrite and on the thought police (haha). He makes a broad statement and then slightly contradicts what he says. Art should have a different meaning to everyone because of their past experiences, not because they are told that they should.