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“When the going is really tough, art is stifled.”


Thinking out loud.. In a wonderful conversation between Brian Eno and Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's superstar ex-finance-minister says this:

“When there is an earthquake seismologists become important. Now we have an economic crisis, economists are important. During the 1930s we had to wait for the upturn before artists became significant. When the going is really tough, art is stifled.”

I think art has no excuse for not being on watch, ever, but in this corner of the West the going has been so seriously tough, it simply boils down to finding enough time. I'm no Socialist so I'm never pro- or against- any ideas of the left, but the direct Capitalist connection between time and baseline money literally means it's possible to stifle the arts so much (by way of depriving the artists of basic life security) so that art ideas stop being expressed. The lack of time makes for shallow and noisy work.

Who provides a moral compass for us, or first aid for the human soul? Science is largely unconcerned about right and wrong, it distinguishes merely facts, hypotheses, cause and effect. The market is blind to moral. Philosophy and the other (analytical) humanities are in a sort of relativistic trap of their own making. It has to be art. Nothing else looks capable or willing.

But when stifled, or in search of profit, art drops the moral compass it has a sort of obligation to hold high and look after. Once that happens, a feedback mechanism of utmost importance is disabled. We enter a downward spiral.

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