Dun dun DUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!
wELL FOLKS, IT’S FINALLY HAPPENED, HOLD ON, TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES . .
There, that’s better.
Well Folks, it’s finally happened, there’s no feature for today! Cue panic (quick, everybody start looting!).
I have been in a period of transition lately–reorganizing this blog, finishing up projects, and starting new projects–so I haven’t given WTOE its due attention this week. Sorry for that, funny thing is some of the reorganization and changes (coming to you live on Monday) have to do with WTOE! Anyway, today I will be rounding out my thoughts on art a little better and writing on some of my favorite artists and what their work has meant to me.
Art has the potential to do so much. It can literally change people and society. To me, the definitions of art and artist are wide ranging. By my definition, an artist is anyone who has a view of the world and/or humanity, or an idea, which he or she intentionally attempts to manifest in some way. Art is the manifestation of a person’s view or idea. When you really think about those definitions, well, they have the potential to make people angry. For example, wouldn’t that make Karl Rove an artist of sorts? Yes. Who ever said that all art is good, or that what comes from art is always good? Art has the potential to affect people, to sway how they think and feel–sometimes that is not a good thing. Art can be abused (music industry *cough*). I think the short story–Wasted Past, Unwashed Future–by Rarasaur illustrates this point really well. I also have to point out that my definitions simultaneously make art everything, and thus nothing. What can I say? Maybe I don’t like delineating certain aspects of creation as art (essentially relegating them to the realm of Ramen-eating perpetually broke hippies), and other things as more constructive forms of creation (which are then separated from the idea of being art). Maybe I’d rather see the word “art” disappear and be replaced by a true understanding of the act of creating something–whether that something takes the form of words, equations, theories, songs, paintings, bridges, buildings, and so on.
I’ve brought up Karl Rove because what we call art, like the digital age, has the potential to either heal our wounds or to tear their edges further apart. We live in an age of instant information (well, some of us do). This has created a pandemic of verbal diarrhea. It has created a generation of lazy thinkers who would rather have meaning handed to them on a silver platter rather than have to look for it. Knowledge given is not the same as knowledge earned, and there is a frightening trend growing in the U.S. education system (I can’t speak for other countries) that relies heavily on rote memorization and test-taking skills. I can’t claim to know what the path to wisdom is lined with, but I’m willing to bet it isn’t scantron sheets . . .
And that is why art is both important and scary. Rove and his ugly band of cohorts ran away with my country, turned us into bullies, made us complicit in unspeakable actions around the world. They painted a very ugly picture. How? By understanding the worst aspects of human nature and exploiting them. It is easier to exploit people who accept things at face value. We need deep thinkers. More than that, we need visionaries that look at the world and see its potential to be better, not its potential to be exploited. We need better artists.
That is why I feel understanding the driving forces behind creation and why people do things (to put it simply) is so important. It’s not a whim, it’s an essential aspect of creating a better world. We have to understand our past and present before we can overcome it–and we shall either overcome the past or be consumed by it.
And now that I’ve gotten that out, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite artists and why they are so important to me. But first, if you have any thoughts on the above, please share in the comments section below. Argue with me for ‘s sake!
All right, now I’m actually going to share some of my favorite artists with you:
1. The White Stripes: My junior year of high school was ending when I discovered the White Stripes. I lost a friend to a drunk driver (and repeat offender sheltered by his connections). It was an odd situation. I didn’t trust easily, I had very few friends and only one that I spent a lot of time with. This is not the person I lost. I’m not sure that anyone else really knew we were friends. The majority of conversations I had with him always seemed to happen when it was just the two of us, after school. Despite our interaction being limited throughout the years we knew each other, he came to mean a lot to me. When he died, I felt like I had no one to talk to about it because it was hard to explain to others why I felt so devastated. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through this experience on my own. One day I cam across the White Stripe’s album “Elephant.” The album is dedicated to the death of the sweetheart. While I know this is a figurative ideal more than a literal meaning, it became a shoulder to lean on when I needed one. Every song on that album seemed to be telling me to hold on, we’ll get through this. You, me, and the world at large. So I held on, and I got through, and I still love the White Stripes today. The full dedication to the album is stunning, and I highly recommend you read it: you can find it here. Click on the second image in the second row.
2. Matt Parker and Trey Stone: Three words: America, YEAH! Lol! Anyway, these guys blend wisdom and fart jokes into one potent martini. While I don’t always agree with their ideas, or the summation of the show, I have mad respect for their work and the overarching message to question the world around you. If something is ridiculous, point it out. Make a joke of it, especially if it is already a joke by its very nature. Most importantly, however, South Park taught me how to laugh at things I took far to seriously. It taught me to question myself (in a good way) and be willing to laugh at my own absurdities.
3. Umair Haque: Remember when I said we need visionaries? Umair Haque is one of those visionaries. Whether it is the incredibly thought-provoking posts on the HBR (Harvard Business Review) Blog Network, or his book Betterness: Economics for Humans (which puts forth the stunning idea that profit as the bottom line is not a good thing for our world or ourselves), Haque always delivers thought-provoking content with the assertion that a better future is out there. His writing gives me hope, makes me think, and inspires me to be a better person. Betterness is available on the Kindle–buy it, read it, love it! Well, okay, feel however you want to feel about it so long as you read it.
4. Albert Einstein: I don’t think I need to explain this one. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
5. Ray Bradbury: There are really no words to describe what his writing has meant to me. The best I can say is that it is like sitting and chatting with a dear friend: comforting, thought-provoking, and lovely.
There are a lot more I could add to this list, but I’m stopping myself at five. Who would you put on your list and why?
Also, please don’t forget to yell at me for calling Karl Rove an artist!
Oh yeah, and send me your arts–whatever form they may take–to ponderingspawned at gmail dot com. Answer this question (and this is the most important part): What drives you to create?
Ten Years of Shock and Awe (I linked to this above as well when I spoke about Karl Rove. This is an amazing, detailed, and well researched article that is well worth the read. READ IT, READ IT NOW!! Then buy Umair Haque’s book and read that too.)