amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Whack of Rants

Been a while since i did a rant, so here are three.

RANT 1: Artists & Money

On FaceBook recently a silly poster has been shared all over the place saying "I'm an artist, don't expect me to work for free." While I think it's great when artists get paid for their work, I do expect them to work on their stuff because they are exploring and testing boundaries etc., etc. That's why I think this statement is nonsense. An artist is going to explore their art regardless of receiving money for it or not.

Being paid for the end result of one's art is another issue. Writers, visual artists, dancers, musicians, playwrights etc who attempt to live off the money they earn as artists, except for rare examples, often live below the poverty line. They have chosen art over practical concerns. I wish we lived in a society where all artists could get funded for working on their art, but we don't. We live in a society where art is seen as a hobby by many people, is funded barely by the powers that be, even though it has been proven what an economic benefit art is. Many artists who are famous now were not rewarded financially for their work in their life time. I'm not saying that artists should starve for their art. I'm just saying that yeah, artist, I expect that you will do your art without financial remuneration, but I hope that you get paid for it.

Part 2 of this rant is about the be all end all obsession with money

There are all kinds of ways to get paid for one's work. Artists may exchange their creative output for attention. Most artists dwell in obscurity most of their lives. To have one's work paid attention to is rare and important. In this day and age of social media and blogs and sites, artists might exchange creative output for a chance to have their work shown on a popular site. They are exchanging creativity for publicity. It's a fair exchange. Sharing one's creative output for free also can help discover other artists working in a similar field. The exchange of creativity for creativity is a fair and wonderful exchange. Not to mention trading one's work for other people's.

Everyone dreams of being a famous novelist with scads of money and adoring fans, but the truth is that happens rarely. Someone said once "if you don't have to write, don't." and i think that applies to all artistic disciplines: if you aren't driven to do it to explore on an artistic level, then don't. For the most part your ego is going to be bruised, your wallet will be empty and nobody will give a rat's ass about your art. You are the one who has to care.

RANT 2: Question and Answer sessions

I go to a lot of readings etc. And inevitably there's one person during a Q&A who will stand up, not ask a question but ramble on with praise for the author and then launch into some lengthy personal diatribe, wasting everyone's time and monopolizing the mic. I don't get it. Why do people do that? I'm sorry but nobody, including the writer, cares. It's just not the time. I don't know how organizers are supposed to react to this. It's rude and self absorbed and selfish.

RANT 3: Buy local

So recently I had to listen to a well known celebrity chef rant on and on about the buy local movement. His rant ruined the evening for me. Not because he didn't make some good points but because it was not what i expected when i decided to spend a precious evening attending what i thought would be a discussion on his recipes, stories about his experiences and tips on making meals. The guy was so absolutist. Meanwhile I took a look at all his clothes, his shoes, his fancy silver ring etc, and wondered if all of them were products he bought locally. Meanwhile I listened to him talk about his wonderful and expensive hobbies. Meanwhile I heard him say that a gadget he can't live without is his pepper mill because he loves ground pepper. I wondered where in his little hamlet he bought locally grown pepper. Or the Thai curry paste in his recipe book, or the cumin. I don't enjoy hypocrisy and I hate being lectured to.

The whole buy local issue is not so straight-forward. Firstly instead of lobbying to get nutritious and flavourful food into the grocery stores where Canadians who are not wealthy kite flyers who guzzle ice wine syrup but average families with earnings that barely cover their mortgages, this fellow and many of the buy local proponents advocate stopping in to wee shops where you know the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker. For most of us living in urban centres this would entail wandering off to the far reaches of some little town, using up plenty of gas and then spending double or triple the going rate for a block of cheese or a chicken. Where's the concern for the carbon footprint taken up in pursuit of such? Where's the concern for the whole world rather than one's little berg and what such protectionist, isolationist embargos do for the global economy?

Don't get me wrong I understand that AgriBusiness is fucked up, that the food distribution system is fucked up. But instead of working with the system and lobbying for the availability and affordability of good nutritious food for all, the buy local movement and this fellow in particular seem to be advocating another enclave for the rich to shelter in while the poor continue to eat their kraft dinner because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to buy in a grocery store than a bunch of produce. This reminds me of the rich wanting Canada to adapt a private health care system instead of having universal health care. It's wrong-headed and elitist and selfish.

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