04 March 2014

[Title to Be Determined]

The ingredients in this platter of link sausages are very similar. And trade secrets, so don't even ask.

  • Contrary to some really bad imagery (drawn from a combination of really bad poetry and really bad memoirs largely written by those who inherited at least enough wealth to "get by" in their respective cultures over the last four centuries), there's this ongoing myth of the "starving artist" as some kind of essential aspiration, or at least larval stage. This creates real problems when artists really do "starve" — which is not to say that starving in a postmodern garret in Camberwell resembles starving in Nairobi all that much — because it creates rather severe, non-talent-related entry gateways that simultaneously restrict both the backgrounds of prospective artists and the works created by actual artists. Those who wonder why it took so long for a black man to win an Oscar for his producer-director role, in a film about an essential part of the history of black men in America (and remember, that black man isn't even an American!), should consider that clawing out of abject poverty into the slightly less abject poverty of lower-end service industries was an improvement for an entire generation of black men. It limited their ambitions, and it limited the ambitions of their children. Ironically, only those whose focus was away from the arts could "afford" to embrace them.
  • All of which is far more worth pondering than Jonathan Livingston Guano, the mid-twentieth-century's paeon to the unexamined life. That piece of dreck was taken down in simultaneously vicious and elegant prose by Ursula K. Le Guin in the late 1970s, in her speech/essay "Dreams Must Explain Themselves." Le Guin's text is sadly difficult to find (its first wide circulation was in a long out-of-print essay collection)... and the interplay between these two items and their respective contexts also reflects back on the preceding link sausage.
  • All of which turns back to the question of what do humanities students — not literary scholars, but mere English majors — have to offer in today's economy? One might argue that it depends upon accepting that accountancy knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. One might not be far off, except near those margins when the difference between the cost of everything and true starvation is less than the margin of error in one's projections, one's ambitions... one's ancestry. Or one's willingness to go along to get along in the arts.
  • One of the annoyances of this Oscars this year is how few of the nominees I've had a chance to see. Unlike my previous two decades in East Central Redneckistan, it's not due to lack of availability in local theaters (which was as possible as it was only due to the large university population): It's because everything except the work itself is a miserable experience. And, again, this particular link sausage is made from many of the same ingredients as the preceding three on the platter.
  • Consider, too, misguided attempts by exploiters of the arts to protect "their" property that are encouraged — even compelled — by illogical application of legal and economic imperatives from the dawn of mass production to the arts. Bluntly, the "protect it or lose it" aspect of trademark and unfair competition law that mattered to silversmiths in the East End a couple of centuries back are not well considered in the arts... but they are, nonetheless, the law, and if Flightlessbird did not take this course of action it risks "losing" its valuable trademarks. For some value of "valuable trademarks" imposed by yet another incompatible perspective — accountancy and securities valuation.