A World Without Art

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A World Without Art

Periodically, the question will come up, “ If you had to give up one of your

senses, which one would you select?” Which one, the question implies, could

you best do without? I ruminate on this question occasionally, wondering what it

would be like to be without something that that is so taken for granted that I

don’t even really think about it at all. What, I ask myself, would I miss the most?

These questions come to mind when I watch a little girl in one of my

kindergarten classes who is profoundly deaf. She wears massive hearing aids,

and is able to understand much of what goes on around her, but I wonder,

when the children are singing the little songs they learn to help them remember

their counting or alphabet skills, or any of the myriad of other songs they learn,

what does she hear then? She maintains of look of puzzlement on her face, as if

she can’t quite figure out what the rest of the children are doing. Does she hear

the music? Does it make any sense to her? Or is it just a bit of confusing noise

that she can’t decipher?

I wonder again when I watch a blind man navigate through the campus library,

cane held out in front of him, following the textured path laid out to make his

journey easier, unaware of the student art which adorns the walls next to him.

Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s wretched, mostly it’s indifferent, but he will

never know as he maneuvers his way past this month’s offerings. The vivid

slashes of color, the layers of texture, the intricate detail of the artistic renderings

will never pierce the darkness of his world. What does he think when he hears

conversations about art, about color. Does he paint visual pictures in his mind?

Or do the words we use to describe things visually take on a completely

different meaning for him?

These thoughts take on a personal significance as I think about living a life

without art. As a cook, the thought of being unable to taste the chocolate

mousse, or the hollandaise sauce is a distressing notion, to put it mildly. Good

food brings great joy to my life, and I would hate having to give up that part of

my life. I am after all, the woman who trekked all the way from San Francisco to

Vienna in search of the perfect Doboschtorte.The holidays see me virtually

chained to my butcher-block worktable, turning out dozens of tins of cookies,
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