That’s really interesting, and it’s compounded by the belief that opera, for example is “highbrow” while Hollywood is “lowbrow” - despite a huge overlap in subject matter. And I’ve had a few people who are not racist at all explain to me the difference between poetry and rap.
The whole essay seems to hinge upon this dubious assertion. Art has traditionally not been about consumerism. Much of it is made without any regard for or assumption of an audience. There’s also a large mismatch of focus between comparing what are by their nature performance arts, such as theatre and ballet, with mostly solo home activities, such as the example of making carrot carnations.
It’s called “art” because art means “to be”. Craft as an extension of who you are. There has probably always been an overlap, but I think arts and hobbies are most readily distinguished by the motivations behind them. Art tends to be a full-time compulsion to refine technique as an innermost expression of self. Hobby tends to be a form of leisure time entertainment to amuse oneself. Artists can more often work full time to provide an experience, such as performing in a symphony orchestra. While hobbyists would usually be paid as artisans for producing something tangible, such as a quilt.
Ultimately, I don’t know how anybody can find arguments of what truly defines art as productive or interesting. But Lind’s view of arts defined as social status games strikes me as being particularly banal.
Interesting idea. I think perhaps it may be in the best interest of the minor arts to move away from elitism. Orchestras used to be a mass thing that was purposely transformed into an elite thing. I don’t go to orchestra concerts because I believe them superior to rock concerts. I go to them because symphonies are awesome pieces of music that sound best when played live. (I happen to feel the opposite for nearly all rap and a lot of heavily processed pop)
Marshall McLuhan says something – in Understanding Media, if memory serves – about how obsolete technologies become forms of entertainment.
He cites the example of horses: working technology into the early twentieth century, entertainment thereafter.
I generally agree about this. Turntablism and retro computing are contemporary examples. Although I am not comfortable with classifying a lifeform, such as horses, as a form of entertainment.
Yeah, or farming in general. At least in the Midwest it seems the in thing for retired professionals to buy a small farm in their retirement. Their parents and grandparents may have had to farm to survive, but for some reason a retired orthodontist or whatever finds it fun to have a few cows and field of corn.
Well The Art of Computer Programming was written before the hobby computer boom of the 80s, so this makes sense to me.
I suppose that means that one day, in its twilight years, the internet might even be used for pornography.
I think in places the article gives an impression “art denial”, but I don’t think that is intended. As I understand it, the author assumes a quality of artistic value that is orthogonal to the minor-to-major scale of popularity used in the article and is never really addressed.
That reminds me:
I agree. I think supposing that quantity (popularity) equals quality (value) is very much an industrial-age notion. And, as applied to art, almost entirely an artifact of the 20th century.
Isn’t popularity being used as just an arbitrary reference point from which to weave a narrative?
Some time ago, I was surprised when the editor of a highbrow magazine and of a major book review, respectively, both told me that their favorite contemporary author was Patrick O’Brien, author of “Master and Commander.” You hypocrites, I thought. You don’t even read the literary fiction that you publish or review.
Is he saying that people who write unpopular literary fiction are deliberately trying to be unpopular? Or in other words:
If you write poetry, expect to be participating in minor art. In order to be elevated to a high art, you’ll need to write rap lyrics. (Until rap becomes a niche market, you’ll then get demoted to a hobby) Oh, and don’t listen to rap and like it poet, I’ll think of you a hypocrite.
I realize that he’s not saying poetry is worthless as a pursuit, he’s saying its worthless to the market. The only way the author correlates this with art is in stating a non sequitur disguised as an obvious truth, that poets know their work is worth very little in dollars. I may have missed it when he says that poets are in it for the G-ride.
So is Van Gogh’s work art or craft? Wait, what am I saying, isn’t there craft to art? Or is he just taking the long way around to saying that popular art sits as far away from craft as possible?
Some clothing designers are the same way. There are non-mainstream clothes, ones that show too much cleavage or, more recently, testicles or penis. The only person wearing it, is the model walking down the catwalk.
I can answer this one!! At least in my state, you can qualify for a number of farm tax breaks with a certain minimum has of cattle. A lot of wealthy retired businessmen will get a handful of cattle, which isn’t too much trouble, since they wanted a retirement estate and hunting land anyways.
A lot of the real local farmers get a huge kick, since the “gentleman farmers” as they call them, give the cows names. (Crazy talk for most of the real ranchers/farmers.)
“Sophisticated verse was never a major art, and having lost even a small non-practitioner audience, it has lost its status as a minor art.”
For values of “never” that apparently do not extend to, say, Homer or Ovid or Virgil or Dante or Beowulf. Of course, much of Lind’s take depends on a severe flattening and narrowing of the space occupied by the family of activities that constitutes “art” and the assignment of “major” and “minor” to audience size and demographics.
Kind of an interesting thing to have found and read on BoingBoing after just reading this article in The Atlantic: The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur
This is less “thought-provoking” and more “trite”.
Why make the distinction between what does or does not constitute art based on popular demand? What’s the point in calling something a “craft” if it has a smaller audience? Where does this completely bizarre assumption that the people who read literary fiction or poetry are mostly other writers or poets come from?
For values of never between the beginning of modern capitalism and now.
There is an interesting prejudice revealed in the claim that:
Today’s minor arts, I think, include theater, ballet, opera, symphonic music and literary fiction. These still include small audiences whose members are not also creators, audiences who patronize these arts in part out of an inherited feeling that these are superior to movies or genre fiction.
So, the main reason these “minor” artistic genres still exist is because of unexamined classist prejudice? They couldn’t possibly be considered enjoyable or worthwhile on their own merits?