Yes, it's a blog about reading.

Friday, December 16, 2005

On Art

While cleaning up my office - the more I clean the messier it gets - I came across a New Yorker clipping from the 5/27/96 Talk of the Town segment about a speech by art critic Robert Hughes. It is entitled "The Case for Elitist Do-Gooders" and was written when the NEA (along with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) were under attack by the Republican Congress. Here is some of what Hughes said:

"Of course, the economic argument is the merest flimflam. The drive to abolish the NEA (or to cut its funds to the point where it's unworkable...) has nothing to do with the economy--not in a Congress that last year voted the Pentagon seven billion dollars more than it had asked for. Eliminating the NEA is simply a bone that Congress can throw to the extreme right. It is a cheesy piece of political symbolism, mounted by opportunists who want to show their populist credentials, and who don't care what the destruction of the NEA does to the public culture of America."

And further on:

"One of the ways you measure the character--indeed the greatness--of a country is by its public commitment to the arts. Not as a luxury; not as a diplomatic device; not as a social placebo. But as a commitment arising from the belief that the desire to make and experience art is an organic part of human nature, without which our natures are coarsened, impoverished, and denied, and our sense of community with other citizens is weakened. ......The arts are the field on which we place our own dreams, thoughts, and desires alongside those of others, so that solitudes can meet, to their joy sometimes, or to their surprise, and sometimes to their disgust. When you boil it all down, that is the social purpose of art: the creation of mutuality, the passage from feeling into shared meaning."

Wow! I love that line "where solitudes can meet."


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