Thursday, June 14, 2012

The creative class

Interesting and saddening article on Salon recently about how there has been a massive drop in work opportunities for those in what article author Scott Timberg calls 'The Creative Class.' Many groups have suffered in the recession, but this article is, as much as anything, about presiding narratives. About how classes are portrayed, by whom, and with what agenda.

This from the article:

Novelist Jonathan Lethem, whose father was what the writer describes as “a non-famous artist,” sees the American artist as living in internal exile. American history is stamped with “a distrust of the urban, the historical, the bookish in favor of a fantasy of frontier libertarian purity. And the Protestant work ethic has a distrust of what’s perceived as decadence.”

For me, that resonates with my sense of New Zealand too.

There has been much talk recently about anti-intellectualism in large sections of the U.S.Where creative artists are mistrusted, and how people are being persuaded to mistrust creative workers. This opens up the whole debate of course, over just what we consider a creative worker, and who is it that is in the creative class. I often remind my students that creative is not a state of being, but an action, and perhaps an understanding.

The man alone against physical wilderness held great power over this country for a long time, and has never really left us. It is always problematic though, as it can inspire insularity and paranoia. At the very least it is always male-centric and even its view of the rural is onesidedly male.

The same resentful and paranoid chills have affected the U.S.

Again, from the article.

But these seeds of paranoia really blossomed with the invention of the term the “cultural elite.” During the “Murphy Brown” wars of 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California, connecting the Los Angeles riots to a group sitting “in newsrooms, sitcom studios, and faculty lounges all over America,” jeering at regular people. “We have two cultures,” he said, “the cultural elite and the rest of us.”

It will be a long time before the dust settles on this issue, and on the recession in general and its survivors. It is important though, as always, that we drive our own narratives. If we give away control of our stories we become secondary characters in the stories of others.

You can read the full article here.

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