Last week, artist James Gurney posed a question on his blog.  He presented two options and asked which you’d prefer:

  • Spend the rest of your life trapped in a library or art museum, with unrestricted access to all the world’s great works of art, literature, film, etc?  Or…
  • Spend the rest of your life outdoors in nature, but never have access to any form of art again?

Personally, I lean toward the life trapped in a library/art museum option, but still… it’s a tough decision.  But then I started thinking more about this. Or perhaps over-thinking it. Why would I be trapped indoors with all this art?  Why can’t I go outside?  And then the answer occurred to me: Mars.

At some point in the future (perhaps not the near future, but at some point in the future, I’m sure) humanity will establish its first colony on Mars.  As that colony grows, the colonists will develop their own customs, their own culture, and ultimately their own art.

There would be a growing interest in having a venue where artists could showcase their work, and someone would have to curate the collection of original Martian artwork.  I guess this isn’t exactly the scenario James Gurney was envisioning.  You could still go outside, if you wear your E.V.A. suit, and you wouldn’t have unrestricted access to all the great art of the world—just all the art of a world.

But still, the more I’ve pondered Mr. Gurney’s original question, the more I’ve liked the idea.  This sounds like an interesting job, being the curator for the first art museum on Mars.  I’d take that job.  Or at the very least, I might write a story about the person who has that job.

So what about you?  If you had to choose, would you choose a life without nature or a life without art?  And what sort of scenario do you imagine might force you to make that choice?

15 responses »

  1. Kate Rauner says:

    Oh, I like this idea. Any colony in our solar system will face this: the only safe place is inside your habitat and what will you do there? Especially if you envision technology performing most of the tedious maintenance, people will have a lot of time on their hands. That can be very bad – idle hands are indeed the devil’s workshop.

    In my scifi Mars series, my colonists become more and more unwilling to go outside, except for a few malcontents. By the final book, colonists spend their time on vocations that are not Great Art but little hobbies – like what I do myself here on Earth. Good enough for a life?

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Hey, thanks for the reblog! Personally, I feel like having too much work to do can be just as problematic as having too little. Humans (including Mars colonists) need a healthy balance between work and relaxation.

      Like

  2. Kate Rauner says:

    Reblogged this on Kate's Science – Real and Fantastic and commented:
    Oh, I like this idea. Any colony in our solar system will face this: the only safe place is inside your habitat and what will you do there? Especially if you envision technology performing most of the tedious maintenance, people will have a lot of time on their hands. That can be very bad – idle hands are indeed the devil’s workshop.

    In my scifi Mars series, my colonists become more and more unwilling to go outside, except for a few malcontents. By the final book, colonists spend their time on vocations that are not Great Art but little hobbies – like what I do myself here on Earth. Good enough for a life?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think about this a lot, actually. The library/art museum is the same as a colony ship in my mind. Could I leave Earth’s nature to live confined to a space ship? It’s a tough call, especially now the Earth is dying and the stars seem more and more like our only future. I don’t want to make that choice, which is why I spend a lot of time working on a third option in the back of my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Sounds intriguing. I’m curious what that third option might be, though if you’re saving that for a story I won’t press you on it.

      There’s a scene in George’s Secret Key to the Universe (a children’s book by Stephen Hawking) where George is asked whether we should focus our efforts on saving Earth or colonizing space. George answers “Why can’t we do both?” That’s sort of been my attitude about it. I don’t think reaching for the stars and taking care of our home planet are exclusionary goals. In fact, I think doing one will help us do the other.

      Like

  4. karengadient says:

    Tough one, but then I’m already living in a desert where I can’t explore nature for half of the year without instant sunburn (well, unless it’s night, but then there’s critters creeping out there). So, I’ll choose the library/museum option. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d choose the library over nature, particularly if it has internet access. I like visiting nature but would find being permanently exiled to it immensely boring, and nature is often very uncomfortable. I’d be worried though about the museum eventually being boring unless it was unimaginably huge.

    Scenario: I’ve been sentenced to prison with the library as one option and exile to a wilderness as the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s a super tough choice for sure since I thrive on the arts and libraries! However, since human beings need nature in order to survive, I’d choose life without art. We need natural sun. Natural fresh air. Natural pets. Natural food that grows outside. Being creative is inherent to human nature so we’d find a way to create with nature (or are you saying that we wouldn’t be able to create anything???). That would pose an entirely different species to your question then. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      You raise a good point. We could probably make new art using materials we find out in nature. That’s how our ancestors did it, right? It’s hard to imagine human beings not being able to create new things.

      Like

  7. I would pick a life outdoors, without art. I find there to be a lot of beauty to appreciate in nature, and a lot to make you pause and think. Isn’t that the purpose of viewing art?

    Liked by 1 person

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