Life As a Work of Art

An outdated metaphor, or pointless self-help advice?

It’s August and it’s hot. Holiday time. Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Robert Musil from his novel The Man Without Qualities:

'What sort of life is it that one has to keep riddling with holes called ‘holidays’? Would we punch holes in a painting because it demands too much from us in appreciation of the beautiful?'

Musil is making fun of the breathtakingly popular and influential idea that we should turn our life intoor treat our life asa work of art. Everyone who is anyone in Western modernity endorsed some version of this metaphor, from the Earl of Shaftesbury to Goethe, from Nietzsche to Duchamp. And these days the self-help industry also tries to make the most of it. For my part, I'm on Musil’s side and think that this is one of the most overhyped ideas in Western thought.

If you squint, you could see how this life as a wo

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Torri Lloyd 17 May 2021

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Torri Lloyd 17 May 2021

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Torri Lloyd 17 May 2021

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polibios 21 August 2018

If I remember well, Musil's quotation comes from one of his essays [if I am wrong, please provide the location of quotation], and he wasn't aiming at art, but at the mindless, widespread imitation of certain habits (weekend time = nature / museum time,etc ) in the belief that such habits have a certain uplifting, transcending quality to our lives.