Viktor Lebedev, psychiatrist, science journalist, project manager for the Pinel Case project.

The greatest utility is the absence of any utility

Why do we need art and other types of inefficient, rather non-beneficial activities? What does this seemingly useless activity as art practice, meditation and free time from work and household give us? In fact, you can bring everything under the influence of pragmatism’s sway, lay aside meaningless activities and free up time for more affairs to improve your own effectiveness. We will begin to work more, manage to do more and we will become more successful. So why should we waste time on things that are not useful and beneficial?

There is one radical thought that haunts my mind and I return to it in my thoughts almost every day. I discuss it with my client and bring up this subject when I meet friends. This one is very simple: we are not what we do. Our professional achievements, certificates of accreditations on the wall and prizes on shelves do not tell the truth about us. Exam scores and full house applause also do not tell the truth about us. Insults aimed to us do not describe us at all. We will never become gossips behind our backs. We become ourselves when we are not doing something that has strict sense and assessed result. There we become ourselves.

In such circumstances we fully open ourselves. We feel free, we understand that we can build ourselves and turn our ideas into reality. We build bridges between what is inside of us and what is outside – the physical world. We get the real confirmation of our talents and qualities. We get confirmation of the existence of ourselves. This is the most relevant thing that “irrelevant” activities can give us.

Art is a safe space where there is a place for a person left alone with his devastating thoughts, loneliness and fatigue. There is a place for those who are not accepted by others, a space where such a person can find his true identity and get a toehold to not fall. A workshop, scene or computer screen becomes a safe space where we can see a person in all his glory. He will appear in all his unlimited vigour when he shows us his capabilities. Art is essential in order not to fall into the abyss.

Many of my clients draw and do this talentedly. Sometimes it seems to me that there, on paper, I see an actual person but here, in front of me, there is only a shadow – a timid manifestation of the grand and magnificent. I support the will to create in my client, because it will be very challenging for them to live without art, as if the air will be cut off. Art and play give us the opportunity to be human beings, to be ourselves. Let us remember this and not take away this opportunity from ourselves and others.

Zero pragmatism and profit in what people do let them not cling to the assessment, get out of the sight of other people and relax swinging on the waves of this world. Art is a lake on a sunny day even if it is raining or snowing outside your window. We all need to go out to this lake to meet ourselves.