Ellen Dissanayake, an Independent Scholar living in Seattle, has an essay in the book Biopoetics that addresses “making special.” She sees making special as an “undescribed human universal and the core of a behavior of art.”
She argues that this is a characteristic that lends to making art evolutionary. No other species makes art for this reason. In other species, art is connected to attracting a mate or playing a game as a means to survival. Ellen proposes that human production of art is often for these reasons and something more, something special.
She writes that, “the messages that are reinforced by the arts, and the tendency to reinforce or make special these messages, promotes community and one-heartedness, and this gives them additional human selective value.”
I read her sentence with interest in self. Writing is my chosen art. Community and one-heartedness can be an outcome of my writing art, but is it the reason I do it? I see the act of writing as solitary and done so out of wanting to express something new and being different. Neither a promotion of community or one-heartedness.
Therefore at first, what she wrote flew in the face of my own reasons to create art. I silently argued against. To be a part of the evolutionary she speaks, doesn’t the message of the art need to be as much a part of the artist as the audience? Otherwise I argue it would not be part of an evolutionary process.
Then I thought of something. I want to belong to a certain organization because I believe its community would add to my writing. Having trust from its membership to covenant with me would allow me a free and equal engagement of their minds.
To intentionally want to be part of something goes contrary to my normal modus operandi. It is revolutionary and maybe, just maybe, evolutionary. It is a part of “making special.”