Why Does This Exist?

As someone who spends a great deal of time writing reviews about books, movies, and occasionally other products, I often wrestle with the question of why something exists.  When one is dealing with creations, one is led inevitably to questions of purpose and meaning, because creation takes a great deal of effort and that effort has a point.  That is not to say that a given creation fulfills its purpose, but rather that its existence demonstrates that there was a purpose in someone’s mind or else all of the time and effort that it takes to make anything would not have been made.  Trying to get a grasp of what someone was trying to accomplish makes it much easier to understand the reasons why something was done or not done, and it allows me to be as far as possible in reviewing and critiquing and evaluating those creations that were made, and it also informs my own thinking process when it comes to my own creative processes.

I believe that most of us are far too often passive consumers of art and entertainment and do not ask of it the right sort of questions.  Again, the fundamental question we have when it comes to the creation of art, whether that is in books or architecture or music or movies, is why it exists and what purpose it serves.  Several examples should suffice.  When I get a book in the mail or that is dropped off by my friendly local UPS driver or seasonal helper [1], that is nearly the end of a very lengthy process.  I know, often, why books are sent to me.  An author or publisher thinks that my informed opinion about their writings will help the book sell to an audience of book readers.  Those who read what I write know that I will write what I think, and that I go into reading a book wanting to like it, because one wants anything that takes up a substantial amount of limited free time to be as enjoyable as possible.  Yet each book I receive is the result of a great deal of labor spent in writing, researching, editing, formatting, and the like, many of which I am familiar with because I am a writer myself and know how much it takes.  That sort of time and effort is not spent without a purpose.  The same is true of movies, for example, which take the efforts of hundreds of people whose names appear on the end credits over the course of months and years.  People write scripts, scope out locations, build sets, make costumes, act, perform music, edit film, work on special effects, and so on.  The same effort goes into writing and recording music, with their own editing efforts and mixing and marketing, and so on throughout any kind of art that exists.  People spend years honing their craft and many more years polishing it through practice, and that practice has purpose and meaning.  We create and enjoy the creations of others for reasons.

How often do we reflect on those reasons?  Why do I read books?  Most of the time, the books I read are nonfiction, and they range across genres as diverse as self-help and psychology on the one hand to military history or historical geography to memoir and books about theology and practical Christian living.  Many of the books I read have at least something to do with the task of living a better life–better understanding the historical context of our world and of my life and better understanding my world and how to successfully cope with it in a godly fashion.  The people who write the books I read have various motives like desiring to pass on what they see as truth, the desire to help other people through presenting what they know and what they have experienced, the desire to be seen as an authority, the desire to combat or help people cope with undesirable sociopolitical trends, and so on.  The purpose for companies to distribute these books or movies or cds is often to make money, which often requires some sort of name recognition that will draw people to a given work.  Sometimes the motives of people for creating or being involved in a given work are impossible to know for sure, but even if we cannot always determine what motive it is that leads people to devote their time to a creative process, we can be sure that there is some motive in it, even if that motive is as simple as curiosity or a desire to relieve boredom.  We may not always create wisely, but there are always reasons for it, even if those reasons escape our conscious understanding.

Why should it matter that nothing exists without some sort of motive or purpose?  The most obvious reason is that we ourselves exist, and we do not exist because our own motives or purposes, or even at times the motives and purposes of our parents, who may not have had a clue about what to do with us after our presence on this earth was recognized and after we drew breath for the first time.  We are creations, and as human beings we continually create from early days, from our first playful experiments with dirt in the yard or driveway or crayons and markers on the wall until the time our creations move to forms that other people can recognize and appreciate.  Some people, it seems, never rise above the mere vandalism of certain lower forms of artistic creation that seek to destroy while making one’s own mark, while others quickly move into astonishing and prodigious feats that leave others speechless with either admiration or envy.  Since we are both artifacts of creation as well as immensely creative people in our own right, we ought to ponder why we create and why we are created, since we exist for purposes not our own, and it would be wise for us to have some curiosity as to why things are created, so that we may better understand ourselves and our world.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/02/05/divine-providence-in-the-life-of-nathan-the-upser/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/12/18/waiting-for-the-books-to-come/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/23/it-is-a-truth-universally-acknowledged-that-a-bibliophile-must-be-in-want-of-more-books/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why Does This Exist?

  1. Pingback: The Endless Volley, Or Why I Hate The Editing Process So Much | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Life Strategies | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Audiobook Review: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much | Edge Induced Cohesion

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