The other night I had a wet dream.
This isn't all that odd but it's been happening to me more since I've become undepressed. This most recent emission started me thinking, though: If my nervous system can cause me to have an orgasm without any of the appropriate external stimulation at all, it follows that my nervous system contains within itself everything needed for me to orgasm. Therefore all the seemingly appropriate external stimulation is unnecessary.
Generalizing from this I conclude that my nervous system contains within itself everything I need to be happy. (This is a particularly bitter pill given that for the past few years my nervous system has decided to withhold that from me and instead let me be depressed all the time.)
Stendhal wrote, in a quote I have taped to my easel, "Beauty is the promise of happiness." Or, in terms of Darwinian survival, beauty is an outward sign of reproductive fitness. Or anyway my apprehension of someone's physical beauty is my nervous system's measure of that someone's reproductive fitness. I think they'd make me happy. I think they'd make a good mate. I would like them to make me orgasm.
But that orgasm isn't in them, it's in me. My happiness isn't intrinsic to that person, it's inside my nervous system. So what does that make them? Some kind of complex key to unlock the happiness inside me?
Beauty may be the promise of happiness, but it's an empty promise. Reproductive fitness does nothing for the individual's happiness. Having children who can go on to reproduce themselves doesn't help me have a happier life in general, or anyway it doesn't need to; once I've had those kids and raised them to a certain point, I can be unhappy. I can even die. And it won't matter a bit to their survival or the survival of my genetic material or the species in general. Darwinian survival isn't an individual matter.
So what's the point of beauty?
I wrote once, not too long ago, that maybe it's time art became about the creation of beautiful objects. Now I'm thinking about changing my mind. I think I'd rather not have my art promise happiness; I'd rather my art unlock the potential for happiness inside you.
I don't know if art can do that. I don't know if I can make art that does that. But it's something to aim for.