What Is Art?

One of the tougher things about growing older is making peace with the fact that you’re never going to get around to doing most of what you put off under the delusion that you’d have plenty of time and energy for it at some indeterminate point in the future. It’s a long list of abandoned aspirations but, for me, one of the easier things to accept is that I’ll never properly appreciate art or its history, since there seems to be so much involved and also who can be bothered to learn the secret language art-types have created to make you think that drawing pictures of naked ladies or placing a piece of literal doody atop a theremin as the center of a “light-themed installation” is somehow more transformative than your bourgeois mind could ever comprehend? I mean, I get the naked lady stuff but the doody-topped theremin thing is like, come on, you’re never going to make me insecure enough to think I’m missing out on some sort of conceptual brilliance there. Does that make me a philistine? Sure, why the hell not. Thank God, then, for Julian Barnes, who helps you feel like if you don’t get art at least you’ve got someone smart who’ll tell you what you’re missing.