“The imagination today is under siege. We are saturated with information; with concepts and opinions that stream ready formed, ready learned from our mouths and are fed to us by the chatter of media networks.” – From Roger Housden’s Why Poetry Is Necessary
In a modern materialist world, we have so much control over our temperatures, births and deaths, appearances, food, and nature in our human terrariums. We pump money into technology so we can have anything we want whenever we want it, and won’t that satisfy all of our desires? What place does the artist have in modern society? Who needs art when all of our needs can already be met by money and science?
1. In our technological convenience, we are disconnected from the earth and our bodies. Art connects us with our true selves, with what it means to be human.
2. We are constantly connected to each other, yet we have that nagging feeling that we lack community. Art connects us to each other on a deeper level.
3. Through social media we can all pretend to be experts, but underneath we know how ignorant we are. Art deals with the unknown and the unknowable.
4. Despite our veil of complete safety, our lives are extremely fragile. Any natural disaster, sudden illness, or accident can completely uproot us. In a dangerous and unpredictable world, in which we are completely vulnerable, art gives us comfort.
5. Psychology has demystified our own minds, and medicine has given us anti-everything drugs. Even though we understand, we are still slaves to our desires. In a completely logical world, we still go all inexplicably crazy in love and hate and anger and despair. Art helps us anchor ourselves in a whirlpool of emotions.
6. Atrocities happen. We think we can never get through this or make sense of any of it. Art offers no answers, but helps us sit with the question.
7. We all die. Art deals with mystery and possibility in a life we don’t understand.
Kurt Vonnegut likened artists to the “canary in the coal mine;” artists are “the raw nerve endings of society” who can see in the dark and give early warning signs. By clicking below you can listen to my song “Canaries,” which is based on this idea.
Meet me at my website to connect amidst what Kerouac called that “Bleak inhuman Loneliness.”
Sing Truth to Power,