I was watching an episode of "Penny Dreadful" (ep.04 of season 1, here's the YouTube link for the scene in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxp21dbnRnA). In this episode, Dorian Gray (the one inspired from Wilde's book) and another character, Ethan, have the following discussion:
Ethan: Do you have a favorite [they are looking at Dorian's portraits collection]?
Dorian : I do. But it's not in here.
Ethan: I've seen some pictures I like a lot actually. I don't know if they count. There's an Anasazi village in Colorado. This was an Indian tribe that died out a long time ago.They build this town up the side of the mountain, in the cliffs. There are some paintings they left on the walls from thousands of years ago. No people. Just animals. The sun. The moon. Whatever they thought important enough to, uh, remember.
Dorian: Why do you like them?
Ethan: They're primitive. [Silence] No. They're honest.
Dorian: Can art be honest?
Ethan: You're the expert there.
Dorian: I think music can. Perhaps only music, because it's ephemeral. That's the paradox. Music is a phantasm, but it's true.
Ethan: You know your music, too.
Dorian: Oh, I'm bored with them. I know every groove of every cylinder. There's nothing new. [Silence] There is one though. I would ask if you know Wagner, but you'd only pretend you don't. It's the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. Literally translated, it means "love-death. [Music starts] This is the very end of the opera. Isolde's lover is dead before her. They're on a beach. The waves are rolling in and out. You can hear that in the music, can't you? And her heartbreak, can you hear it?
Here's my question: What does Dorian mean when he asks if art can be honest?
This makes the scene so mysterious and symbolic (and so beautiful) to me. I would love to hear some ideas about the meaning of it.