H II Regions, 25 September 2012
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Useful take on how the spirit of occupy is a response to society’s contemporary view of art.
[F]unding for the arts by the state has been targeted mercilessly by the prophets of austerity. The underlying premise is not complicated: Good art, they tell us smugly, pays for itself. It does not require support from the taxpayer. Any art that does is an elaborate indulgence. At the first sign of trouble, the arts can be thrown overboard as surplus to requirements, and once it has divested itself of their burden, ‘civilisation’ (if it still deserves the name) will roll on without any particular discomfort. The idea that the arts and the people who create them are necessary for a society’s health and survival—more necessary than, say, commodities brokers—is slowly, painfully slipping away, replaced by… whatever sells.
Good art pays for itself (Radiohead) and the rest has to sell (Nickelback). These are our two choices as artists–either we create pacifying entertainment that revels in the status quo, or we somehow luck out into being the best of the best. One is easy and terrible, the other virtually impossible. For those of us who can’t write schlock entertainment yet neither are we geniuses, the road is barren, blasted, and broken.
When we were young, adults said we could be anything we wanted. After we jumped through all the hoops, accepted the debt, and said we wanted to be artists, those same adults replied anything but that.
A society without a vibrant art culture is a society doomed to suffer a horrific end; art is the expression of society’s unconscious, of its desires and problems. When a society no longer supports its people in their attempts to reach understanding through abstraction and dialogue, that society loses the ability to know itself. [Pop Matters]
One of the most interesting voices in the SF/F blogosphere is Requires Hate, a reviewer / critic who firmly champions people-of-color narratives and non-Western views. It’s always an engaging read (albeit acidic) and of course helps me check myself on various issues of privilege and dominance. A new post over on the site illuminates their editorial policy but also provides some reasoning for their operating procedures. It comes down simply to the fact that white westerners find it far more easy to disseminate their views; Requires Hate is an antidote to that.
Recap from Felix Salmon over a Joseph Stiglitz (feat. Cornel West) talk that broaches a few interesting ideas, most important of which to this project is the need/desire to craft moral arguments in support of leftist economic ideas. And quote:
There was just one question from the audience at the event, from a woman who said that she loves the Bible. “It says there’s something deeply unhealthy about the pursuit of wealth,” she said, and she’s absolutely right about that. But you’re not going to find many economists who agree with that, and certainly Stiglitz didn’t.
As Salmon says most economists aren’t predisposed to malign capitalism but they will readily discuss its flaws: It’s up to the rest of us discontents to take it the final step. That is, of course, imagining a postcapitalist world. What would that world look like? I’m not smart enough to know; but I am smart enough to continue engaging economists and politicians to see if anyone can figure it out. If there’s something unhealthy about pursuing wealth, what would art look like that didn’t pursue wealth? I think this is where projects like Cosmic Vinegar can step in and take the discussion to practical applications. [Reuters]
Price of Knowledge
Latest permutation in the pay-for-research debate: a consortium has a deal in principle to turn particle physics into an open access field. Much of it involves switching the order of payments and how contracts are signed; in the end, the universities are still paying for access to the articles, it just sounds like a Kickstarter now. I don’t love the idea but I suppose it’s slightly less immoral than the previous system. [Nature]