Meditation for the Unemployed Poet
I beg to differ with the data: we need more artists, not more engineers. To evolve out of the existential quagmire in which we are presently mired, we need more poets, not more scientists. So next time you see an artist or writer struggling to make meaning in the world, thank them for their presence. Give them a job. They need and deserve to hear it, for there are precious few of them left.
Far from being cliché, the anomaly of the artist today provides a needed buffer to the complete standardization of society. We need artists to remind us of the value of non-conformity—or even what it is. Artists tend to bring dynamism into the workplace. The writer or artist, provided they retain the integrity of that appellation, cannot actually "sell out." “Selling out” is propaganda of the normative mode where anything or anyone that doesn't ascribe to the economic reality is considered alien or dangerous.
Artists don't "sell out or buy-in." The artist agrees to participate in the experiment at hand.
When an artist enters the workforce or gets a commission, dresses a set or model, paints a portrait, sits down at the piano or publishes a piece, she enters into new complicity with the public, most of whom, (let's admit), don't identify as artists. They don't see themselves as "worthy." You may disagree, but this is the world we live in. The gross, consistent banality of the media has inculcated the notion that not everyone can make meaning in most people's minds. This is nonsense of the highest order. The greater nonsense is that most people believe it. Artists, therefore, ARE different and we need them to be that way. And we need more of them
When the artist enters into the domain of the public, she, by the simple virtue of her presence says, "It's okay to be yourself. It's okay to be different." In this day and age, that is a revolutionary act. Commerce or consumerism in its inherent banality can never be a catalyst to self like this. "Buying something" cannot make a person or create meaning or anything anymore than exchanging a shell for a bead attributes value to either object. Value is derived from transactional, material economy. Art engages a transpersonal economy; the greater archetypal realm of humanity. No matter where it shows up, art grants permission. It allows for the fallible human to err and allows for defects to be seen as integrated parts of the whole. Indeed, the anomaly of the artist today provides a needed buffer to the complete standardization of society.
I beg to differ with the data. We need more artists, not more engineers. We need more poets, not more scientists to evolve. Next time you see an artist or writer struggling to make meaning in the world, thank them for their presence. They need and deserve to hear it.