as though the arts were like science

When I used to be a speaker at colleges, I’d say, “Look, practice an art, no matter how badly or how well you do it. It will make your soul grow.” That’s why you do it. You don’t do it to become famous or rich. You do it to make your soul grow. This would include singing in the shower, dancing to the radio by yourself, drawing a picture of your roommate or writing a poem or whatever. Please practice an art. Have the experience of becoming. It’s so sad that many public school systems are eliminating the arts because it’s no way to make a living. What’s important is to have the experience of becoming, which is as necessary as food or sex. It’s really quite a sensation — to become.

The trouble I’ve had with art criticism is that it discourages people from painting. Dance criticism discourages people from dancing. But hell, everyone ought to be painting. It’s such a pleasant thing to do. With critics, it has to be original, as though the arts were like science, where you make progress. Hell, there’s no need to make progress.

- Kurt Vonnegut, in interview with Stop Smiling magazine, in 2006. You can read the whole thing here.

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