the process is the artwork

Is the beauty of the bird’s song intentional?

“There is a burst of magnificent art and all the evidence you need of a mythical imagination in full form. (…) And with respect to the problem of beauty – is this beauty intended? Or is it something that is the natural expression of a beautiful spirit? Is the beauty of the bird’s song intentional? In what sense is it intentional? Or is it the expression of the bird, the beauty of the bird’s spirit, you might say? I think that way very often about this art. To what degree was the intention of the artist what we would call “aesthetic” or to what degree expressive? And to what degree is the art something they had simply learned to do that way?
When a spider makes a beautiful web, the beauty comes out of the spider’s nature. It’s instinctive beauty. How much of the beauty of our own lives is about the beauty of being alive? How much of it is conscious and intentional? That is a big question”

– Joseph Campbell in conversation with Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth (1988), on the subject of cave paintings.

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