Future of the Arts in a Mixed Capitalist Economy LO30746

From: Don Dwiggins (d.l.dwiggins@computer.org)
Date: 11/01/03

Replying to LO30586 --

Bill Harris writes in LO30586:

> I'm guessing that there are two bits to this issue: is it worth increasing
> people's complex music literacy, and how should one go about that?

I'd like to frame it as part of a broader question: is it worth
increasing people's understanding and appreciation of complexity in
general, and how should one go about that?

My feeling is that the whole nature of the public dialog, at least in
my country, has been pushed strongly toward a devaluation of
complexity and a glorification of simple, narrow, shortsighted views
of the world (sound bits, factoids, immediate gratification, ...).
Certainly it's to the interest of advertisers to have people think
that way -- it makes it much easier to induce them to spend money.
As for political discourse, well ...

This may have a bearing on Ray's question in LO30605:
> The questions are still out on why the secular complex arts that bind all
> of the groups together in a society have died while the Arts for
> Entertainment (much lower competence and complexity) and the Religious
> arts which serve a "use" role whether worship or proscelytization has
> flourished. The same is true for the military bands and arts used to sell
> things. (not shown on graph) It is just the complex secular arts that
> develop the higher brain functions that are withering.

He points to another "reduction phenomenon": the
simplification/degradation of the religious message.

(By the way, Ray, I love the charts; among other things, their
complexity is kind of self-referencing. When confronted with a
time-related phenomenon, I'm as prone as anyone to use a linear,
past-to-present representation; seeing the charts was a wonderful
"whack upside the head".)

So my answer to the first part of Bill's question, is that it's very
much worth doing if it's important to raise people's ability to be the
kind of citizens, workers, consumers, neighbors, etc. that a truly
healthy democracy and mixed capitalist economy require.

As to the second part, I doubt that "one" can go about it with any
expectations of success. I think it'll take a distributed (and dare I
say learningful) effort on many levels by many individuals, groups,
and communities. I applaud Ray's effort as one example of the many
kinds of effort that will be needed. (Of course, all this is quite
subversive, since it envisions a serious change in the structure and
behavior of the political and economic systems. One can expect
resistance in many forms and on many levels. As Bill says, perhaps
lessons from the Eastern martial arts will apply here.)

Here's a suggestion for one line of thinking: begin to reduce, and
work toward eliminating, the distinction between performers and
audience. One model might be the chess community, where there's a
wide range of skill levels and involvement, but everyone's a player,
and every performance is a learning experience for the onlookers.
Ray, how was/is the nature of music creation and appreciation
different in societies where performance of music was/is a common part
of everyday life?


Don Dwiggins d.l.dwiggins@computer.org "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploration will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." -- T.S.Elliot

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