If this Art, heaven help us
I used to follow Seth Godin.
And I’ve still got a few of his books but somehow (to me at least) he no longer seems relevant.
I remember this quote from his book Linchpin:
“Art isn't only a painting. Art is anything that's creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.
What makes someone an artist? I don't think is has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren't artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artists who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.
An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally.
That's why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer. That's why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artists, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.
Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artists, even though his readers are businesspeople. He's an artists because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally, and he doesn't care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it's important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.
Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn't matter. The intent does.
Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”
Not to blame anything on Mr Godin, but if we’re supposed to create art apropos of our work, our consuming habits and of course living up to our potential, then heaven help us.
(I’m not sure if my exegesis of Art is anywhere remotely the same as his but surely there must be an expectation somewhere in our daily activity that our lives are more meaningful than being compliant cogs in the edifice of the market.)
Let me be more direct.
If we’re all meant to aspire to be artists — in whatever guise — then the marketplace of opinion would have us believe that we’ve got to be big ass winners.
The money, the fame, the prestige and the adulation.
That’s ridiculous, though.
We can’t all be great artists — however you define the term.
Instead, surely, we should be dialing down on our god-given talents and rather than knocking the ball out the proverbial park going small, tiny or even thinking that our presence on this earth might be the reason we’re in such a mess (see the book Better Never to Have Been by Professor David Benatar).
But what do I know?
Perhaps I should cease stirring the cultural pot and live out a nice quiet life.
I can’t though.
Or at least something deep within me can’t. It’s fired up sufficiently to sit down at this little computer every bloody day and bash out a few more words. I’m no Bukowski but I do resonate with a few things he said about feeling like shit if he didn’t write.
I realise there are readers at the end of my musings and I don’t know you sufficiently to take the liberty of assuming anything. That said, I always welcome your comments. I was going to say feedback but I’d be lying if I’m open to you telling me this far into my life that my writing sucks. You can if you want to but then again, the lawyer instinct is bound to kick in and that means, well, I’d rather we didn’t. I’d just unsubscribe.
What do you think about being an artist?
Is that the apogee of the human form?
If not, what is?
Take care and have a lovely day.
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