Humanity And Art Essay, Research Paper
Imagine four of the last survivors in the world after total destruction, as far as these men are concerned, huddled around a fire searching for meaning. All crowded in a small shelter owned by the oldest (the leader of the group), Dr. Jenkins. Since the life of these four men tends to get a bit boring they are obviously amused by the slightest things. They occupy themselves through book readings from a collection that one man has, but it seems hopeless as a source of entertainment. Take yourself trying to live life and your only chance of excitement was some words written on some sheets of paper. The old doctor sees these men s desire for excitement and decides to share his most prized possession, a portable phonograph that he some how managed to get hold of in the destruction. To these men, the phonograph acts as the last sign of human art. The men in The Portable Phonograph prove that Art, such as music, is a major part in one s life, no matter what the conditions are.
It s funny how a man can be in a state of mental and physical destruction but some how manage to leave it all behind when a type of art, such as the music from the phonograph, is brought to his attention. This is exactly how the men in the story plan to survive the devastation around them. Outside of the music there is nothing. One man so wants to make his own form of art, he says, I want paper to write on, then continue, And there is none. The destruction of the war has taken all the meaning out of the earth leaving memories of the catastrophe to their surroundings. It s dark and the ground is filled with craters left by the bombs that have taken the life from around them. All these things sound to be enough to make a man sick, but when the music is heard it seems to relieve these men s minds completely of the darkness and open a tunnel of light. This light has the power to bring back memories, bring up new ideas, or just give meaning to listen to the phonograph again and again. The doctor s offer to the men to come back week after week gave them a reason to look forward to the next day. It s amazing how something as simple as music can have such an effect on someone.
The men s love for the music is obvious because when the old man asks the other men if they would like to listen to the phonograph some are left speechless while the young man begins to act like an excited child by saying, oh, please. The excitement continues when he thanks the old man several times and then repeats, Please, the music. The men then argue about which record will be played. After all, they won t hear it again for a week so it has to be special. One man tries to listen to the names of the records in attempt to recognize them, but then states, I have forgotten. All these struggles that occur are examples that support the love of the musical arts, showing that although life around them is over it restarts every time the needle strikes the albums.
To visualize what the music means to these men is a very difficult thing to do, but try to picture other situations that are similar. Saving Private Ryan is a great visual example of needing art while stuck in ugly situations. They all sit around and listen to the phonograph knowing they have a great battle coming there way but as they sit and listen to the music even the viewers tend to forget about the tragic future that awaits the soldiers. After visualizing this I had a much better understanding of the lifeless characters in Clark s story. You can to feel them drift into a pleasantness while the music plays over and over. It s almost like they are hypnotized for a short while then snapped back into the hell that can only be escaped weekly, depending on how long they survive.
Clark s short story shows the importance of art and the warm, relieving feeling it can give a person. How odd it is that something such as art, in any form, can change one s attitude towards their current living conditions. So much that the doctor feels threatened that maybe the young musician is tempted to come back and kill him just to have the phonograph. The story suggests that everyone should know the value of art and use it to erase thoughts that would like to be forgotten for a little while or maybe forever.