The Dignity Thing: Mission

 

 

The Illusion of Free Stuff

We are taught in basic economics that goods have intrinsic value (i.e. cost of production + some margin of profit), and that they have perceived value (i.e. what the market will bear), with perceived value determining how wide that margin of profit can be.
Read full article on The Illusion of More

by Tessa Lena

Problem: Mainstream American culture does not respect the spirit and treats art as “entertainment” and a source of distraction. We see the consequences of this paradigm every day even if we don’t always connect the dots.

Before we all became “civilized,” self-important and perpetually bored, musicians played a very important role in society. They were trained to have a deep understanding of nature and human spirit, and they used their understanding to bring emotional balance to their community, to help people be grounded in reality and emotionally stable–which benefited both individuals and the society at large. Musicians were expected to use music intelligently and responsibly to help people work well, eat well, celebrate with joy and grieve in a healthy way. Music did not serve escapism, it served genuine emotional balance, and musicians were very well respected.

As society changed, so did the role of the arts. Today, we live in a plastic world that is fast and for the most part, void of immediate meaning. The amount of prozac Americans consume is proof enough, we all know. It is only logical that in this mechanical environment, artists are reduced to clowns. We are expected to either be insecure slaves of whoever has the biggest dollar or to walk over to the other side and stop caring about love and truth. Yes, there are beautiful, powerful exceptions to the rule and there are artists who play the game on their own terms (a lot of them indigenous–surprise!) but they are few and far between. And yes, there was a massive splash of meaningful art in America that lasted a few decades but it seems like we are back to the flat land of bubble gum and insecurity, if we judge by radio playlists.

In too many cases, the very artists whose direct social purpose is to be strong enough to guide people to balance and to bring social change if necessary, are seen jumping up and down for likes and helping brands to sell shoes. Or crying in the corner from feeling too little, too inadequate and too unappreciated. In the meanwhile, those who financially benefit from our weakness have the nerve to tell us that being a slave is “cool”!

There is a word for that. It’s called “framing.” Lawyers and public relations managers use this method a lot. They take a piece of reality and describe it in a way that suits their interests the best. Their description doesn’t have to be based on real reality, it just has to sound plausible enough. Once they define it the way they want, they repeat it and repeat it and repeat it until it sticks, and then it becomes the new distorted reality.

How does framing relate to creative people?

Too many times, I went to music industry events only to hear a million infomercials from brands and tech companies, and to see dozens of starry-eyed college kids eating it up like it’s honey.

We are being played and brainwashed! There is also a truckload of economic issues, and they go hand in hand with the brainwashing.

After going to many of those events, I became frustrated. There are too many lies. These lies create too much confusion and pain in people. Even if these conference-going kids are happy to believe in lies today, eventually they will get older and join the crowd of frustrated clowns. And be thrown away, and replaced with new shiny kids.

This conversation needs to happen. As artists, we have both power and responsibility.

We all deal with challenges of the plastic world but the plastic world isn’t there to defeat us, it’s a challenge that we need to overcome. If we find a better way to deal with it as artists and as human beings, we can help ourselves, each other, and those who like our art.

It’s a difficult challenge, and there is no way we can fix everything in one day but we need to start somewhere, and an honest conversation is a decent start.

We are all different. We come from different cultures. But we have a common responsibility and together, we are stronger than those who are trying to keep us down.

by Tessa Lena

Problem: Mainstream American culture does not respect the spirit and treats art as “entertainment” and a source of distraction. We see the consequences of this paradigm every day even if we don’t always connect the dots.

Before we all became “civilized,” self-important and bored, musicians played a very important role in society. They were trained to have a deep understanding of nature and human spirit, and they used their understanding to bring emotional balance to their community, to help people be grounded in reality and emotionally stable–which benefited both individuals and the society at large. Musicians were expected to use music intelligently and responsibly to help people work well, eat well, celebrate with joy and grieve in a healthy way. Music did not serve escapism, it served genuine emotional balance, and musicians were very well respected.

As society changed, so did the role of the arts. Today, we live in a plastic world that is fast and for the most part, void of immediate meaning. The amount of prozac Americans consume is proof enough, we all know. It is only logical that in this mechanical environment, artists are reduced to clowns. We are expected to either be insecure slaves of whoever has the biggest dollar or to walk over to the other side and stop caring about love and truth. Yes, there are beautiful, powerful exceptions to the rule and there are artists who play the game on their own terms (a lot of them indigenous–surprise!) but they are few and far between. And yes, there was a massive splash of meaningful art in America that lasted a few decades but it seems like we are back to the flat land of bubble gum and insecurity, if we judge by radio playlists.

In too many cases, the very artists whose direct social purpose is to be strong enough to guide people to balance and to bring social change if necessary, are seen jumping up and down for likes and helping brands to sell shoes. Or crying in the corner from feeling too little, too inadequate and too unappreciated. In the meanwhile, those who financially benefit from our weakness have the nerve to tell us that being a slave is “cool”!

There is a word for that. It’s called “framing.” Lawyers and public relations managers use this method a lot. They take a piece of reality and describe it in a way that suits their interests the best. Their description doesn’t have to be based on real reality, it just has to sound plausible enough. Once they define it the way they want, they repeat it and repeat it and repeat it until it sticks, and then it becomes the new distorted reality.

How does framing relate to creative people?

Too many times, I went to music industry events only to hear a million infomercials from brands and tech companies, and to see dozens of starry-eyed college kids eating it up like it’s honey.

We are being played and brainwashed! There is also a truckload of economic issues, and they go hand in hand with the brainwashing.

After going to many of those events, I became frustrated. There are too many lies. These lies create too much confusion and pain in people. Even if these conference-going kids are happy to believe in lies today, eventually they will get older and join the crowd of frustrated clowns. And be thrown away, and replaced with new shiny kids.

This conversation needs to happen. As artists, we have both power and responsibility.

We all deal with challenges of the plastic world but the plastic world isn’t there to defeat us, it’s a challenge that we need to overcome. If we find a better way to deal with it as artists and as human beings, we can help ourselves, each other, and those who like our art.

It’s a difficult challenge, and there is no way we can fix everything in one day but we need to start somewhere, and an honest conversation is a decent start.

We are all different. We come from different cultures. But we have a common responsibility and together, we are stronger than those who are trying to keep us down.

The Illusion of Free Stuff

We are taught in basic economics that goods have intrinsic value (i.e. cost of production + some margin of profit), and that they have perceived value (i.e. what the market will bear), with perceived value determining how wide that margin of profit can be.
Read full article on The Illusion of More