Truth Is My Sword Volume I -Collected Speeches in the Public Arena
by Bo Hi Pak
The Quest for Ideals
August 26, 1988
In the following speech, Dr. Pak asserts that art echoes religion in the quest for an ideal of truth, beauty, and goodness and that despite the moral relativism of modern times, artists still must pursue the goal of absolute values. The following opening remarks were made by Dr. Pak at the Second Annual International Conference of the Arts at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on August 26, 1988.
Honorable chairmen, members of the executive advisory board, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen. I am very honored to stand before you to deliver this opening address. On behalf of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the founder of Artists Association International, please accept a most heartfelt and sincere welcome to the city of New York, the site of the Second Annual International Conference of the Arts.
I note happily that many of the participants from last year's conference in Paris are present again this year. Last year's conference theme, "Moral Dilemma in the Arts," proved to be an excellent starting point for our first conference. We have every reason to believe that this year's event will be an even greater success, and what better place for this to happen than in New York City.
New York remains a great and truly unique city. Nowhere else in the world could we find such a large number of people representing so many nations. The same internationalism can be found among the participants and guests at this year's conference. So many distinguished representatives are assembled here in this room representing the world's different races, religions, and cultures that only on the merit of this technologically advanced age would it be possible to consider such an assemblage. However, it is not where we come from that is essential but rather the purpose for which we are gathered together. We are convened to discuss and to share our concerns about the future of the arts. Artists Association International exists for the purpose of advancing the cause of idealism in the arts, emotionally, intellectually, and technologically.
Artists are a very special breed of people who take their professions and lives very seriously and most personally. For this reason I am sure that the next few days will be fruitful and inspiring to us all. This year's conference theme, "Absolute Values in Contemporary Culture," is a topic of great significance, especially when we consider the future of the arts and the role of the arts in society.
Artists are impassioned with a dream and a vision that informs and provokes the audience. For centuries, people have looked to artists as a source of hope and inspiration. In addition to remaining true to their inner mind-the guiding light of intuition-artists feel a collective obligation to society and the world. This power is both great and unique: Throughout history, art has inspired people from all strata of society, from kings and leaders of nations to the common man in the street. Art has the potential to uplift and unite mankind in one moment and instigate riots in another.
At this time, please allow me to express some of my personal views on the arts and on the topic of this year's conference. To he perfectly honest, the theme of "Absolute Values in Contemporary Culture" is not easy to discuss. The words "absolute values" may imply a kind of moral restriction on the contemporary artist, who depends so much on freedom of expression.
But according to contemporary art historian Suzi Gablik, Art is not value-free, as science tries hard to be. It is motivated and purposive. Can we study art for moral results as we already study it for social and aesthetic ones? I am convinced not only that we can but that we must-that the social, the aesthetic and the moral are intertwined, and that we have absolved ourselves of these vital connections to our peril.
Art and the Ideal
Ladies and gentlemen, we must recognize that artists from the earliest times to the present have striven for the ideal and the absolute. The quest for ideals runs in the blood of artists. Even in the confused world of conflicting values that we see today, artists still aspire toward the ideals of aesthetic beauty and excellence. And although self-sacrifice and enduring love are at a premium in our daily lives, they not only exist but are glorified in poetry, drama, and literature. The quest for ideals in the arts imitates the quest of every religion in history to establish a world of ultimate perfection and unconditional absolute love.
I want to conclude by saying that God is the ideal artist and parent of mankind. Have we not marveled at His creation as the ultimate expression of truth, beauty, and goodness? Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely feel we have a unique capability to understand God's creation, since we share in this deepest desire to express absolute values. As an extension of God, our parent, our eternal wish is to become an imitator of the original creator, an extension of that original creativity. We act as a second creator, or second self, to God. In this sense our conclusion may be that artists possess a unique ability to work in conjunction with God as co-creators. Furthermore, we may say that absolute values describe the selfless, the eternal, the truthful, the beautiful, and the good-namely, true love and life.
Thank you for allowing me to express my personal view of the arts. The founder of the International Conference of the Arts hopes this conference will become your conference, your forum to express your hopes and concerns, representing artists from all the disciplines. With this in mind, I am sure this conference will be a beacon of hope and inspiration to artists and lovers of art throughout the world.
On behalf of the executive advisory board and the founder of Artists Association International, thank you very much.
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