« Wee fish, ewe, a mare, egrets, moose | Main | DADT and Rape Culture »

December 26, 2010

Comments

Though certainly an American, given that Kubrick spent the last forty years of his life, 1962-1999 and some time earlier, living in the United Kingdom by choice, I think this is worth mentioning, though below the level of even a quibble.

I didn't want to be the first into the pedantry pool on that list, but Diana Krall is definitely Canadian. (Which is American, broadly speaking, but not USian.)


Russell:

[...] The word "community", in fact, doesn't really show up in the founding documents. Which could either indicate that the concept was familiar to the founders, but simply not thought to be relevant. Or, it could indicate that the concept as we imagine it wasn't really in their heads. Or, that it did so under a different name. [....] look here, I suggest, as a useful glance.
[...] Can you show me the language in the Declaration of Independence, or the Federalist Papers, or the Constitution, where anybody talks about dedicating their sacred life and liberty to establish and maintain a free economic market?

Yes, the 5th amendment, in which life, liberty and property are co-equal.

In other words, no.

The rest of what you write does not answer the question. You do not "show me the language in the Declaration of Independence, or the Federalist Papers, or the Constitution, where anybody talks about dedicating their sacred life and liberty to establish and maintain a free economic market."

The Fifth Amendment has one word, repeated twice that relates to property, which is the word "property," and it simply says "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Period.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process in law. As regards property, all it says is what it says above. Nothing whatever about any further economic system.

If it does, as Russell asked, please quote the words where "anybody talks about dedicating their sacred life and liberty to establish and maintain a free economic market."

That was the question. Not "what's your interpretation of what those words mean?"

The answer to the second question is interesting, but it's a question you've made up, not the question asked.

[...] Whether you call it a free market or what have you, the sense was that each person had a right to possess and own his (now his or her) own property, free from gov't taking or intrusion. Property ownership was viewed as an individual right.
Certainly. Doesn't answer the question, though, but goes sailing off onto your own point, which is valid, but which does not answer the question asked.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Actual legal understanding of the relevant clause:
Deprivation of Property: Retroactive Legislation .--Federal regulation of future action, based upon rights previously acquired by the person regulated, is not prohibited by the Constitution. So long as the Constitution authorizes the subsequently enacted legislation, the fact that its provisions limit or interfere with previously acquired rights does not ordinarily condemn it. [...] The due process clause has been successfully invoked to defeat retroactive invasion or destruction of property rights in a few cases. A revocation by the Secretary of the Interior of previous approval of plats and papers showing that a railroad was entitled to land under a grant was held void as an attempt to deprive the company of its property without due process of law. 139 The exception of the period of federal control from the time limit set by law upon claims against carriers for damages caused by misrouting of goods, was read as prospective only because the limitation was an integral part of the liability, not merely a matter of remedy, and would violate the Fifth Amendment if retroactive.
I'd recommend reading the rest, and I could give plenty of more cites on how this is standard interpretation. Also try any law school, most professors of law, most books on the law, and so on.

(Naturally, you can find plenty of argument, but majority views remain tautologically the standard interpretation, and are what make up our interpretation of the law.)

More importantly, we rely on our Founders and Founding documents as a starting place. We don't worship them as icons, and thus we don't also claim that we must adhere to Article 3, Section 2:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
Are we compelled to adhere to this? Do we want to?

Or this?

[...] Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Should we consider the Founders' words fixed in marble, and their intent to have been that these words remain forever the way America must always be?

Some other bits of the U.S. Constitution that are less popularly quoted:

[...] The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

[...]

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

[...]

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

[...]

Article. IV.
Section 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Russell:

[...] I don't just not see common ground, I'm not sure I see room for common ground. People don't differ on details, they differ on what the basic project is supposed to be.

I don't understand how to go forward from there.

Keep talking to each other.

Elect representatives to reflect our individual views as citizens, under the principle of "one person, one vote," not "ten thousand dollars, one vote."

Continue to evolve our legal and governmental system to better enable that.

Alternatively: divorce, possibly civil war. but more likely something in between while attempting a divorce that wouldn't wind up like the Partition of India:

[...] The partition displaced up to 12.5 million people in the former British Indian Empire, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million.[1] The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship till this day.
We see how well that "solution" is working out today. Not a problem!

Oops.

In the U.S., I don't believe we'll come to that, because we have no such "easy" sorting mechanism. People would indeed have to massively flee to other states of their liking, make drastic changes among factions of states, and then either somehow amicably agree that states can indeed secede, which would require either a yet entirely different Supreme Court, or some serious Constituitional amending, or we're back to having a result along the lines of Indian Partition.

I don't think more than the many of the economic malefactors of great wealth would benefit.

Although civil war in the modern era certainly could do good business. I'd suggest investing here and here.

I think the first alternative remains the best.

GoodOleBoy:

Don't be so linear in your question/response requirements.
Don't issue instructions to other people as to how they should respond idiosyncratically so they allow you to answer questions with non-sequiturs that instead go to points you're more interested in.

You could try asking, though I leave it to you to try phrasing your desire as a question. How you would do that isn't something I can do for you.

Say what you like; I suggest not being surprised that if you're asked a question, and you respond with a thought that the question brings to mind, which you find interesting, but which doesn't answer the question, that you don't be surprised when other people notice that you haven't answered the question.

If the premise is that by further centralization people get a better result in their service from the government, are we stepping toward a global authority since that would be the natural conclusion for this idea.
Fallacy of the excluded middle, aka "false dilemma."

Oops.

"I didn't want to be the first into the pedantry pool on that list, but Diana Krall is definitely Canadian. (Which is American, broadly speaking, but not USian.)"

Sorry, my bad. Although, if it's worth mentioning that Stanley Kubrick lived outside the U.S., it's also worth noting that Diana Krall was educated at the Berklee College of Music and began her career in the U.S., so apparently found the U.S. a fairly comfortable place to pursue her artistic goals. Her sons were born in NYC, but I'm not sure where she lives these days.

That said, my point wasn't that the only talented and interesting people are U.S. citizens, but merely that the arts thrive here, and that scientific innovation has also done quite well. This doesn't generally happen under repressive regimes.

Fallacy of the excluded middle, aka "false dilemma."

Also a straw man, since no one actually believes that if centralization is good for one purpose, then it must be good for all purposes.

sapient: I think that's more true for art than for scientific innovation; repressive regimes can actually benefit from new technology and often direct a lot of resources into pursuing it.

I should also note that Diana Krall (a) certainly performs music of a type first developed in the US, and (b) is awesome.

sapient: I think that's more true for art than for scientific innovation

As a purely personal observation, FWIW, I'd say it's the other way around.

For example: Diana Krall practices an art that was invented by folks who were, at most, a generation away from being slaves, and who lived under some of the most restrictive legal and social burdens imaginable.

Art is something that people fundamentally do, regardless of their social context. It always finds a way.

Art is something that people fundamentally do, regardless of their social context. It always finds a way.

True. But it doesn't always find a way to get into circulation and cross-pollinate. My sense is that black music played by black people (i.e., not minstrel show bastrardizations) remained a local and black thing until some black people moved north and got out from under the Jim Crow regime. (Or in places like New Orleans, where cross-pollination both predated and survived Jim Crow. But how many place like New Orleans are there?)

African-American music:

[...] The influence of African Americans on mainstream American music began in the 19th century, with the advent of blackface minstrelsy. The banjo, of African origin, became a popular instrument, and its African-derived rhythms were incorporated into popular songs by Stephen Foster and other songwriters. In the 1830s, the Second Great Awakening led to a rise in Christian revivals and pietism, especially among African Americans. Drawing on traditional work songs, enslaved African Americans originated and began performing a wide variety of Spirituals and other Christian music. Many of these songs were coded messages of subversion against slaveholders, or that signaled escape.

During the period after the Civil War, the spread of African-American music continued. The Fisk University Jubilee Singers toured first in 1871. Artists including Morris Hill and Jack Delaney helped revolutionize post-war African music in the central-east of the United States. In the following years, the Hampton Students and professional jubilee troops formed and toured. The first black musical-comedy troupe, Hyers Sisters Comic Opera Co., was organized in 1876.[2]

By the end of the 19th century, African-American music was an integral part of mainstream American culture.

So.

Russell:

[...] Art is something that people fundamentally do, regardless of their social context. It always finds a way.
Always.

The human spirit demands it. Without art, we are not human. We would be but mindless, soulless creatures.

Ways:

[...] The oldest known cave art is that of Chauvet in France, the paintings of which may be 32,000 years old according to radiocarbon dating, and date back to 30,000 BCE (Upper Paleolithic).[4] Some researchers believe the drawings are too advanced for this era and question this age.[5]

Other examples may date as late as the Early Bronze Age, but the well known prolific and sophisticated style from Lascaux and Altamira died out about 10,000 years ago, coinciding with the advent of the Neolithic period.

[...]

Cave art may have begun in the Aurignacian period (Hohle Fels, Germany), but reached its apogee in the late Magdalenian (Lascaux, France).

Aurignacian">
It began about 40,000[citation needed] to 36,000 years ago[1], and lasted until about 28,000 to 26,000 years ago.
And onward.

Recently: ART OF THE GHETTOS AND CAMPS.

No question that art happens even in severe and oppressive circumstances. But there's a reason why African-American artists went to Paris and to the large urban areas of the United States during the early part of the 20th century. When they are free to do so, artists tend to go where they find validation, appreciation and patrons, or where they can freely exchange ideas, seek inspiration, collaborate, and learn from other artists.

Or maybe there is no correlation whatsoever between a relatively free society, a diverse and appreciative population, and the rich texture of American art, especially in the 20th century and now. Can't prove there is.

What does it mean for art to thrive? In what sense? The art itself may be great (subjectively) or it may afford the artist great wealth and fame. What public venues for its exhibition are available? Art may always happen, but does it always thrive? Thrive how? (Don't ask me; I'm an engineer.)

At the risk of jacking the thread....

artists tend to go where they find validation, appreciation and patrons, or where they can freely exchange ideas, seek inspiration, collaborate, and learn from other artists.

And if they can't, they do their thing anyway.

What does it mean for art to thrive?

To be made, and to be appreciated as part of the common life of some group of people.

Money and fame are second- or third-order issues.

To be made, and to be appreciated as part of the common life of some group of people.

Money and fame are second- or third-order issues.

That's a valid POV, IMO. I lean that way myself, even if the group consists of several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pict. But my question was more rhetorical. I mean, there may be different points of view embedded in different people's propositions about how the arts do under various political and social regimes. It's just not very well defined, this thriving, objectively, any more than what makes art great is well defined in an objective or universal way.

And as a hypothetical example from the artist's POV, Robert Johnson may well have preferrd to thrive in the way that BB King has thrived to that of dying young and poor but becoming a legend.

It sounds like art is always thriving, everywhere and at all times. Maybe we need some other word to describe a condition beyond bare existence.

I seem to have failed to capitalize "Pict." No slight was intended to any Picts reading this (or not reading this, for that matter).

Or maybe there is no correlation whatsoever between a relatively free society, a diverse and appreciative population, and the rich texture of American art

I think economic robustness means that folks who practice an art are more likely to be able to do it for a living, and a relatively free society means they are more likely to be able to practice publicly.

All good things.

But all of that said, people have, always, done astounding, beautiful work under the most horrible conditions you can possibly imagine.

Art-making, to my eye, is a human impulse that's baked in pretty much at the same level as participating in social groups and talking. It's just always there, and people take it on seriously and in good faith even in the total absence of encouragement or external incentive.

It's a thing that humans do.

Robert Johnson may well have preferrd to thrive in the way that BB King has thrived to that of dying young and poor but becoming a legend.

Hell yeah.

I should also note that Diana Krall ... is awesome.

If you dig Krall, may I also recommend Tierney Sutton. Maybe also Dominique Eade.

No doubt this has been said upthread, but: We might as well admit that living in a democracy is inherently difficult, probably because it requires us to be better than we are.

Also, for another perspective on what the American dream is, the NY Times had a neat article the other day about what American Muslim women are doing and thinking these days.

hairshirt: (Don't ask me; I'm an engineer.)

This modesty puzzles me. Engineering is not "art"??

Creating something that nature can't, won't, or at any rate has never bothered, to create; deriving personal satisfaction from creating it; and maybe giving satisfaction to others by doing so; these are all aspects of "art". And of at least some kinds of engineering.

I don't mean to overdo the analogy: engineering often involves the equivalent of a painter creating a corporate logo or a musician creating a commercial jingle. I don't want to claim that everything is art.

But it seems to me that a certain perfectionism is one of the elements of art. Getting your creation to be just right, even if only to your own taste, is a large part of the artistic spirit, I think. And that spirit is not completely foreign to engineering.

--TP

Well, the arts have certainly thrived for centuries under all sorts of repressive European regimes.

"The arts" thrive no matter what, no question. But what art? Which artists? Which art thrives? In the United States today, artists are abundant, diverse and supported. That's not true everywhere at every time. It's true in the United States now.

This modesty puzzles me. Engineering is not "art"??

That was me being cute, Tony P., so I don't disagree with what you wrote. (In my work, the art is mainly in persuasion, mostly in the form of explaining to people that they are proposing silly things without telling them outright that they don't know what the hell they're talking about.)

Soviet realism produced some pretty good art, too.

But what art? Which artists?

Oh I don't know, a lot of the art and artists we consider great today, from the Renaissance to Shostakovitch.

Don't deny it, novakant. Not sure who you're arguing with.

From Wikipedia (which unfortunately, states it more concisely than I can at the moment):

"Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Leon Trotsky's chief of staff Mikhail Tukhachevsky, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the Stalinist bureaucracy. His music was officially denounced twice, in 1936 and 1948, and was periodically banned." and

"In 1948 Shostakovich, along with many other composers, was again denounced for formalism in the Zhdanov decree. Most of his works were banned, he was forced to publicly repent, and his family had privileges withdrawn. Yuri Lyubimov says that at this time "he waited for his arrest at night out on the landing by the lift, so that at least his family wouldn't be disturbed."

It "thrived," yeah, but...

But it seems to me that a certain perfectionism is one of the elements of art. Getting your creation to be just right, even if only to your own taste, is a large part of the artistic spirit, I think. And that spirit is not completely foreign to engineering.

But knowing when that perfectionism has produces just as good a product that is needed; that's where (IMO, natch) I think engineering and art definitely part ways.

[...] To be made, and to be appreciated as part of the common life of some group of people.

Money and fame are second- or third-order issues.

That's a valid POV, IMO.

I've dropped a link to Edward, who posted as a front-pager here for several years, to ask him if he might comment, what with him being this guy. After all. Mr. Art Gallery Guy.

Took me a moment in my email records to remember/realize that Publius sent me a bunch of email as ostensibly by Edward, because of, ah, well, that's one way mail from ObWi's kitty email address was going out between Wed, 4/2/08 and Sun, 7/19/09, at least. Written by Publius, but all identified as coming from Edward Winkleman.

A tad confusing until one got used to it, since Publius would rarely mention that he was not, in fact, Edward Winkleman. But only slightly confusing, once one realized what was going on. especially given how it went on for at least a year and a half.

It's handy to not delete email unless it's truly ultra-trivial.

Okay, dropped Edward some quotes from this thread; unlikely he'd want to be pulled back into an ObWi comment thread, but, again, a nice chance to catch up with a long-time ObWi blogger whom we haven't seen around in some time.

It "thrived," yeah, but...

Classical music composition is an interesting case, because it requires a lot of capital-intensive infrastructure to realize the work.

Not all work is like that. Black slaves in the Caribbean developed one of the most sophisticated musical traditions in the world with barrels, boxes, and hoe blades.

And in the Soviet situation, to counter Shostakovitch with his compromises and artistic and moral dilemnas, I'd offer Akhmatova, who in spite of constant suppression, censorship, and official resistance managed to produce a body of work of real beauty and integrity.

I'm not in any way disparaging the cultural and artistic legacy of the US, nor am I saying that it's not incredibly helpful for artists to not have to work in the face of suppression. But I'm not sure we can lay claim to a uniquely wonderful artistic legacy, because there's a lot of beautiful work everywhere around the world, and I'm not sure the quality and vitality of the work done here can be credited to a favorable political climate, because a lot of it was done in the teeth of quite unfavorable circumstances.

Art and politics occupy different dimensions of human experience, IMVHO.

In my work, the art is mainly in persuasion, mostly in the form of explaining to people that they are proposing silly things without telling them outright that they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

I feel you, brother.

LBNL: art and engineering:

The work product of engineering is an artifact whose value is its utility. Not the only dimension, but the essential one. The one without which it's not worth doing.

The work product of art is an artifact whose value is its expression and embodiment of existential human meaning. Again, that's not the only dimension, but it is the essential one.

There's overlap, but in general the two projects can be distinguished.

I think there is not one universally valid relation between art/science and the openness of the society. An open society can be totally indifferent to great art, so great artists may find it difficult to produce and live at the same time while they may find a patron in a repressive society that has both the money and the appreciation. On the other hand a society can by force reduce the spectrum of art produced. There are a few (rare) cases of societies/ideologies that are/were hostile to the concept of art itself. From a certain point of view art is 'useless' and therefore discouraged (if not outright evil). Science is a bit different there since it is rarely without any use. But still we find both open societies that do not really invest in even applied science while some extremly repressive ones pour tons of money into certain areas (usually those that are considered useful in maintaining the system).
I see the main influence not in a yes/no fashion but in the direction science and art take with repressive systems tending towards the utilitarian (with niches for the personal tastes of the ruling entities).

It "thrived," yeah, but...

That's exactly why I mentioned Shostakovitch - and one could find hundreds more great European artists working under political conditions ranging from unfavourable to life-threatening. This is so simply because most European countries had repressive regimes for long periods of time and yet a major chunk of the artistic canon was created there.

Since I've acknowledged that art happens everywhere in every time, cannot be totally suppressed, etc., I'm not really disputing the fact that repressive societies produce good art. But a free society does facilitate artistic creation simply because a certain percentage of artists aren't going to be brave enough, or energetic enough, to pursue their art in the face of suppression. Some proof of this lies in the fact that there is so little literary and musical art by women in the Western canon, as compared to men. Women, no doubt, created music and poetry, but it was often like the a tree falling in the forest. Take Mozart's sister, for example. What I think I mean by "thrive" is the ability of an artist to pursue art to the point of his or her highest creative potential, and the opportunity for an audience to appreciate it. Some artists have managed to do that under horrible circumstances - no question. But how many artists have not been able to do so? How much did we miss?

I think there is not one universally valid relation between art/science and the openness of the society. An open society can be totally indifferent to great art...

Hartmut is right here. I would say that art, as a whole, doesn't particularly thrive in the US, considering how rich and large we are. Yes, there are lots of artists, but that doesn't speak to the quality of what's produced - art is not about quantity, for the most part, but quality; is not in any sense democratic, either. American art had its period of ascendancy after WW2 which mirrored the country's. If China had emerged from that war as the sole economic superpower, Hemmingway would've been Chinese.

You can damage art by repressing it, but the mere absence of repression fosters neither expression nor a culture that recognizes its value.

But a free society does facilitate artistic creation simply because a certain percentage of artists aren't going to be brave enough, or energetic enough, to pursue their art in the face of suppression. Some proof of this lies in the fact that there is so little literary and musical art by women in the Western canon, as compared to men.

Sure, but the empowerment of women, as well as minorities and socially disadvantaged groups, and the freedom to create pretty much anything you want is a pretty recent phenomenon. And the US, like many other countries, has quite a history of repressing artistic expression, e.g. the Hays Code and the Hollywood Blacklist. And even today the MPAA will simply slap an NC17 rating on films it doesn't like to make sure they will be edited or very few people will see them.

Well, for me, there's a lot out there that I fimd meaningful to look at, listen to, read, and watch performed. The art I experience is created by people from all kind of backgrounds. Enjoying the arts in this way makes me feel connected to my fellow human beings. E pluribus unum.

This thread took a sharp turn, but an interesting one. I know there are several musicians who comment here and perhaps other artists as well.

One of my children is a musician who has basically never had anything less than a 100% commitment to music. As noted numerous times here, that can pose difficulties earning one's way financially in the world today. So I've not been able to decide whether my wife and I are enablers or patrons of the arts as we provide a significant subsidy for his endeavors. I mostly choose the latter since I like his music and secretly have a wish that I could do something artistic as well as he does. I actually believe he has plenty of musical talent to be commercially successful but I also believe he does not have the disposition to survive the attendant rigors associated with touring and other requirements for commercial success. So he mostly operates from his home and schedules his own gigs in clubs mostly near home or not more than a few hours drive.

I can relate to most of the comments on this thread since I have several other artists, both music and visual arts, in my extended family on my wife's side, and they all have faced these same issues regarding how to pursue their passions while earning their keep, and in some cases supporting or helping to support a household. Although, as some here may have guessed, I'm frequently viewed as a hard-ass, even within my family, I often reflect on what life would be like without the fruits of the efforts of our artists, and it's not a pleasant vision. So, I'm thankful, and not so much for what is delivered in the commercial scene, but for all that goes on in the background coming from those with artistic talents.


I've not been able to decide whether my wife and I are enablers or patrons of the arts as we provide a significant subsidy for his endeavors. I mostly choose the latter...

Good for you, GOB. Art needs patrons.

I often reflect on what life would be like without the fruits of the efforts of our artists, and it's not a pleasant vision. So, I'm thankful, and not so much for what is delivered in the commercial scene, but for all that goes on in the background coming from those with artistic talents.

I'm glad to hear you say that. I think you are in a minority, though (BTW, THIS is one good thing respect for minority opinion is for).

It's perfectly understandable that people don't like some artists. You're trying to get some sleep, and some annoying person keeps waking you up, challenging your beliefs, and making you alter your very perception of things. People don't generally want to PAY to be annoyed!

I have mixed feelings about government sponsorship of the arts. On the one hand, I'm not crazy about the gov. potentially having influence on what gets created. On the other hand though, except for an imaginary perfect market (online - see below), the market decides anyway, and in an even more restrictive, more arbitrary way, on the basis of one criterion only: maximum profit in the short term. Good or great artists tend to be ahead of their time, so that doesn't work very well. I think art needs to be subsidized, and don't see a good alternative to the gov. I don't think it's impossible to do a good job deciding who gets funded; that's a function of a viable, dynamic arts culture, which is kind of what we lack in the US.

Socrates-types annoy everyone, but some countries look past the momentary discomfort to the historical value they see in art. (Artists are mutations, and we need mutations, adaptations.) They invest in it. There are European cities which invest more in the arts than the US Federal gov. does. I wish we had the consensus that art is worth it, that it's a value - like basic science - that the market alone is not going to provide. As with basic science, the ROI is real but difficult to quantify, and impossible to predict.

But we don't have that consensus, and so don't have a very vibrant arts culture (IMO). Instead, we have an 'official' culture which is chronically underfunded (especially now) peopled by academics, the millions of Certified Artists they churn out, local symphonies and museums, and a few arts councils. There's little independence, because everyone is begging for every dollar all the time. So it's not necessarily better than the commercial market in a sense - if anything, you have to be MORE careful not to offend in the 'official' culture than you do in the commercial one.

It's theoretically possible that someday, any artist will be able to find their audience (assuming they deserve having one) via networks, but we aren't there yet, and I wonder if we will ever get there. But that would be the best answer of all.

In the mean time, art needs subsidy, at least for infrastructure. Art is not Amtrak (and it's waaay cheaper than Amtrak). Less than $300 million per year is a rounding error.

I would hasten to add that our weak art culture can give us negative ROI, so to speak. In this atmosphere, there are a lot of artists who don't feel they should even bother trying to find an audience; some just can't do, no matter what, but many would never dream of trying. The latter think it's their job to be alienated from everyone else, and to shock and upset for the sake of it. Shocking and upsetting are frequently necessary, but they are byproducts or means to an end, not ends themselves. The country is awash with postmodern adolescent-grouchy, passive-aggressive (mainly visual) art which is not only pointless, but which even thinks *itself* pointless. It's more downward spiral.

My solution? Fund music! ; )

'There are European cities which invest more in the arts than the US Federal gov. does. I wish we had the consensus that art is worth it, that it's a value - like basic science - that the market alone is not going to provide.'

We probably will not agree on the best ways to fund the Arts, but we can likely agree on what some of the significant problems and deficiencies are. In the commercial arena, we, as a nation and a culture, make a strong connection of arts and entertainment. It's the latter where most of the money is made, so it gets the focus. Many very talented artists go the entertainment path and are very commercially successful. Many not very talented do as well. OTOH, loads of very talented artists either don't go this path or don't get the opportunities needed to earn a livelihood, so their art production suffers. A smaller number of good or great artists have great success without jumping on the commercial bandwagon. I've always been saddened by this set of circumstances.

Earlier in the thread, someone brought up a comparison of art and engineering. IMO, there may be some similarity in the relationship of Arts and Entertainment, on the one hand, and Science and Engineering, on the other. In the USA, entertainment and engineering seem to get a lot more support in the marketplace than arts and science. I think I understand that it's attributable, in large measure, to the nature of our culture.

By the way, all of what I said about arts before is just my opinion.

we, as a nation and a culture, make a strong connection of arts and entertainment.

That is also an interesting topic: what is the essential difference, if any, between the two? I mean, I know the difference between a cheap manufactured pop song and a great Bach fugue, but is the fugue not entertaining? I think it is. And I think more people than one would think would enjoy material more deeply entertaining than the typical porno/geek stuff they get now (not necessarily precious 'classical' music). But it takes time to build a culture, and you have to care about having it. However, since the Market 'decides' what the absolute value of everything is nowadays, the idea of humans having the freedom to make value judgments like that seems passe. So maybe we're out of luck. A business wants a definable ROI, as well it should, so they won't foster the arts; the prevailing political pov is that government can't fund the arts either, since that would imply national self-confidence - can't have any of THAT!

In the USA, entertainment and engineering seem to get a lot more support in the marketplace than arts and science. I think I understand that it's attributable, in large measure, to the nature of our culture.

Canny. Yes, we are an industrial culture, and very pragmatic. Production is everything, and we tend not to trust things which are merely beautiful or enjoyable. But it's very short term thinking. Basic science and art pay huge dividends longer term. But in our supposedly conservative era, we're worse than ever at dealing with both long term problems and goals. Liquidate! We currently have a pretty domineering form of capitalism in this country which I think makes long term planning for anything very difficult. We all pretend our hands are tied, but we are really just abdicating responsibility - abdicating it to an abstraction without a name or face or purpose. Wandering back to the original post topic, I must say that what I've described is neither prudential nor conservative....

By the way, all of what I said about arts before is just my opinion.


What's wrong with your opinion? You've obviously thought hard about it.

However, since the Market 'decides' what the absolute value of everything is nowadays, the idea of humans having the freedom to make value judgments like that seems passe.

The market decides the monetary value of things, and nothing more. Humans are still completely and absolutely free to make whatever judgements of value they wish.

The country is full of people who pursue any of 1,000 things that are of interest to them, with no particular regard for whether it will make them money or not. Fine arts of any and all kinds among them.

Pursuit of happiness, y'all.

It's always interesting to me that Jefferson chose that particular turn of phrase - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - instead of the more common and prosaic life, liberty, and property. He put a lot of thought and effort into the Declaration, I doubt it was inadvertent.

I am inclined to believe that great art needs a bit of resistance to work against not just in the ahead-of-times sense. The necessity to work around those seems to be the catalyst in many pieces we today consider great.
I'd even say art sometimes creates some restrictive rules for that very purpose (self-challenge). On the science side the ancient Greek compass-and-ruler dogma could be seen as having similar effects.
Myself, I am a bloody amateur in several arts but most of it is simply derivative and the world could easily live without it (unless Cthulhu returns soon and I at last find a market for my series of songbooks).

russell: The market decides the monetary value of things, and nothing more. Humans are still completely and absolutely free to make whatever judgements of value they wish.

I was being sarcastic. I was saying that we as a nation can't make the decision that developing our own culture is worth it - a value judgment - since the Market has already decided for us, and there's no arguing.

The country is full of people who pursue any of 1,000 things that are of interest to them, with no particular regard for whether it will make them money or not. Fine arts of any and all kinds among them.

How good a programmer would you be if you had just dabbled in it on the side all these years, without getting paid or having large projects deploy? There's nothing wrong with hobbies, and people can get pretty good at something over time, but real excellence usually requires more concentration than that. Shouldn't the latter be an option?

Hartmut: I'd even say art sometimes creates some restrictive rules for that very purpose (self-challenge).

Yes. No limits, no form. But an environment which tells you that art is a frivolous waste of time and has no monetary or even important *cultural* value is a little too 'challenging'.

I was saying that we as a nation can't make the decision that developing our own culture is worth it

I have no argument with this.

How good a programmer would you be if you had just dabbled in it on the side all these years, without getting paid or having large projects deploy?

I think that folks generally don't code as a hobby unless they are also already doing it as their main thing.

Many, many, many folks participate in some form of artistic endeavor with no expectation whatsoever that they will make any money at it, and many of them do very good work.

Although, having made that comparison, I think the reason that "hobby coders" also generally make a living at it is because, if you have enough interest to code avocationally, you probably code reasonably well, and if you code reasonably well, you can probably find a gig. In other words, there are more opportunities for coders to find paying work.

There is definitely an aesthetic aspect to coding - a sense of structure, balance, and proportion. It reminds me of architecture in that regard. I'm generally suspicious of the quality of code if that aspect is not apparent when you look at it.

In any case, yes, it's somewhere between "easier" and "possible" for folks to do their best work if they don't have to squeeze it into their evenings and weekends. No argument with that.

My overall point on the topic, from way upthread, was simply that art will persist in the face of resistance or lack of support to a greater degree than scientific research will.

And having said that again, I'm not even sure it's true. The scientific impulse - the desire to understand what makes the world tick - is also pretty deeply embedded in the human DNA. IMO.

I'd even say art sometimes creates some restrictive rules for that very purpose (self-challenge).

On this topic, I would recommend Stravinski's "The Poetics Of Music", basically a series of lectures he gave at Harvard in the 40's.

Long story short, you and Stravinski agree.

There is definitely an aesthetic aspect to coding - a sense of structure, balance, and proportion.

I think so too, which is why I didn't shrink from using the comparison. But the comparison breaks down in terms of getting paid, etc.

I agree with you that people will do art/science no matter what. I just think that that impulse is worth fostering and, indeed, honoring - and furthermore that it's short sighted to not do so. Stravinsky, Bach, Picasso - not hobbyists. It's not just money, but also just esteem for cultural excellence which we lack. (OTOH, Ives did ok as a part timer, and he seems to have liked the insurance business.)

"What, ultimately, is the point of being American, here in the early days of the 21st C?"

There is no mention of America in the Bible, so if we exist in the last day it'll be one of the nations arrayed against Israel. But there is mention of bringing every work and idle word into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matt 12:36).

I think that folks generally don't code as a hobby unless they are also already doing it as their main thing.

Most of the really excellent programmers I know spent their childhood years coding as a hobby.

Superior to examine about the side of the Great Seal of the United States,wonderful peace of facts to read.

Beautiful to read about the way of distinguishing ourselves,just wonderful facts to read,excellent to share.

Amazing sort of fact about to watching the crazy dysfunctional drunken ,although the post is wonderful.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad