Another question troubled me for some time. Were the arts groups' creative activities truly artistic, as they claimed? In the beginning I had respected the composers and the painters immensely. Unable to play any instrument, I'd look up to whoever could saw a tune out on a fiddle even if he played with assumed bravura. But before too long I noticed that there was a crudeness in whatever they did, as though the idea of perfection had never entered their minds. I daresay this crudeness originated from their utilitarian conception of the arts. They created every piece of work merely for its usefulness, like that of a weapon: each was made simply for the purpose of rousing people and boosting the fighting spirit. These creations had an instantaneous feel, a dash of spontaneity, but invariably ended in a slipshod fashion. Most of the time a man would finish writing a song or a poem at one go, and he'd be proud of completing it "without changing a single word," and even brag about it, as though to assert that the work had come purely from inspiration, which was a mark of genius.
Patience and refinement were alien to these young men, who couldn't see that art didn't have to be useful or serve a purpose other than entertainment. Their works could be powerful at times, but never beautiful. So I began to have deep reservations about their efforts and sometimes felt they were just wasting their energy and time.
No doubt these men were talented, ingenious, and passionate, but they always stopped at the point to which their cleverness led them, not going beyond into complexity and subtlety, not to mention depth. As a result, however extravagantly they used their talent, they remained like smart hacks, blind to their own shoddiness. There was no way to explain my thoughts to them without risking my neck, so I kept quiet.