Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Arts Council keeps pushing for more art education by pointing out how rich, interesting, passionate, and enjoyable art can make one's life. Which is true, but I think they keep missing one benefit of an art education that is important to most people's everyday lives. I think they should focus on how one learns to communicate and change perspectives with art and how that can function in regular, non-art related jobs. They might get more funding that way.
My modest example, and what got me thinking about this, is that I had to take my car back to the mechanic today because it was running rough. My mechanic asked what the problem was. I told him that when it idles it runs like a Volkswagen and when I'm accelerating it's like the engine is bungee corded to a slow moving truck behind it. And he knew exactly what the problem must be.
That's a benefit of art. That's communication through heavy metaphors. "My engine has a monkey on crack with a rubber mallet in it." "Oh, must be your distributor cap."
Things like that.

I don't remember who said, "The most evil and destructive invention man has come up with is the internal combustion engine."
I keep thinking it was Booth Tarkington, but it seems like it was probably somebody more contemporary.

Booth Tarkington was a heck of a writer. He wrote about the shift from the Victorian/Edwardian eras into the modern age and how a lot of people got stuck in between. He wrote about this very well and with heartbreaking insight. He was a writer with great awareness.
But nobody reads Tarkington anymore. I don't. I have but it's been years and I'm not anxious to read him again. It's not because he isn't good. It's because his work is extremely dated. That's not to say it has nothing to say to us today. He's just one of those authors who got trapped in time. Makes me wonder if, in a hundred years, people like Hunter Thompson wont be treated the same way.
But there's always hope. Look at Antonio Vivaldi. He died in the 1740's and his music faded into the ether of time as people became interested in Mozart and the many many Bach kids. Weird times. J.C. and C.S. were much more popular than papa J.S.
Nobody played Vivaldi for nearly 200 years. In the 1920's, maybe 1926 I think, an Italian music school was trying to raise money, so they went through their attic to find things to sell. They found a trunk full of music. Nobody knew what it was or where it came from.
Turns out the trunk contained 1/2 of Vivaldi's known works. It was another good ten years before Vivaldi had his revival. We can largely thank the poet Ezra Pound the revival. Now every music store's classical section is lousy with Vivaldi. The market is flooded. Riches to embarrass.
Maybe someday the hip bookish crowd will all be aquiver over Booth Tarkington.
There's a lesson in there to artists. Whoa, I made it full circle on this thought train!


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