When nations grow old the
Arts grow cold
And commerce settles on every tree. William Blake
Is this not happening right now? As individuality is being absorbed by the corporate behemoth, we find ourselves wondering why society is becoming more cynical, rather than less. The vision of the “realist” says hope is dead. The pragmatist says, “we can’t afford ‘change.'”
How’s all that hopey changey thing going? Sarah Palin
But progress is not the problem. The end of progress is.
But what is progress? Definition: “forward or onward movement toward a destination”
Progress is also forward movement toward something unseen, something which exists in the future. The outcome is unknowable. Progress requires faith. Understandably, progress is frightening to many, particularly for those who have difficulty with envisioning an unknown future. Consequently, the fear of the individual, leads to inaction by society as a whole.
The artist’s job is to overcome this fear by exploring ideas, beginning work for which there is no certain outcome. When this process is discouraged, when “the arts grow cold,” society becomes cynical and “commerce settles on every tree.” Art, that enterprise which is driven by the individual, with a unique vision, is dead. Tragically, if it has no mass market appeal, it has no value to our society. There is no room for something that is one of a kind.
This is what we are buying into when we shop at Walmart or buy tired prints for our walls so they will look like everyone else’s walls. The best thing we can do for society is to support the artists in our lives. They are the only ones who can lead us out of the corporate hole we’ve dug.
And when you do buy or make an original object or discover an original idea, no matter how silly you or others think it is, because society has injured that part of us, shout it from the housetops.
SHOUT IT FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN!
My last blog about The Chosen, talking about “civilians” deals with this growing phenomenon. We are talking about the death of the individual, here. When we give corporations the same rights and status of the individual, as we did five years ago today, we should no longer wonder what is wrong with our society.
The artists are the last Bastian of the individual. We must lead the way to sanity, not away from it. We are society’s teacher.