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Old 06-26-2007, 09:39 PM   #11
Dale F. Saran
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Tim,
I wonder in part if your view is in part colored by your own definition of "artist". I'm not sure if I agree or even disagree with you, but aren't great writers (like the speech mentioned) also great artists in our culture? It is certainly an art form worth preserving, in my opinion. If you view all artists as of the kin of mapplethorpe, then you might think "Bah! Let private citizens patronize the arts. Not with my tax money." But what the speech was advocating was art in public secondary education - music programs, drama, writing, none of which particularly offends my sensibilities. I received an entirely public education, much of it in rough areas. I am very thankful for having played trumpet for many years and if we say "bah" to Band in public school, why are we willing to fund HS football? And baseball? And volleyball? etc, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love HS sports (have fond memories of those, too) but I think his point is worth considering. Are they categorically "better" or more necessary for an education than putting on a HS play, or having a battle of the bands (we had some really good musicians in my high school and numerous bands that competed at shows in the auditorium. Sold out every time. Pretty cool.)
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Old 06-27-2007, 01:32 PM   #12
Tim Weaver
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I don't agree we should be funding high school sports, either.

Yes, I am a somewhat of a misanthrope and contrarian.

Within the context of high school, however, I have less of an issue with "funding" arts than outside of this system. Creative writing, music, sports, drama, etc., all have some connection to the "outside world" and can help creative more productive and civilized human beings.

That said, there is a dearth of education, it seems, for the fundamentals. I again bring up the concept of kids not being able to make change, write coherently, act in a civil manner, etc.

I have many teenage customers, as well as a teenage niece, who have trouble with what I would consider even a rudimentary knowledge of the English language, specifically when it pertains to grammar and vocabulary. I find the knowledgeable student to be the exception, rather than the rule. The two teens I know who were home schooled far and away outshine the public school students I know of the same age-group.

Where my biggest objection comes with the National Endowment for the Arts, or any other public support of the arts, is outside of that specific setting. In that regard, I think the Free Market should reward those that produce "good" art (whatever that is) and not reward (punish is too strong) "bad" art.

Seriously....how much did US taxpayers shell out to Mapplethorpe and Serrano, only to get some pictures and, well, again Google Andres Serrano's name for what his "art" was.

The Mapplethorpe photos received $30,000 in grant money from the NEA to help defray the cost of the exhibition of the photos.

Serrano's infamous work wasn't directly sponsored by the NEA, nor was he an NEA fellow, however it was a "winning" entry in the 1998 Southeast Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition. The fund that provided the money for the cash prizes came from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, private donors, corporate donors and the NEA. Thus, the NEA's contribution, while not direct to Serrano, was certainly there. If there is other NEA involvement, I believe it's grant money to certain galleries that ended up displaying his "works".

At least Mapplethorpe's contribution could be argued to require some talent for photography. How much "expertise" or talent did Serrano really need to put an item into a jar of liquid?

Let me be clear...I am not, nor will I EVER advocate for the censorship of artists, regardless of my personal views on the works from folks like Mapplethorpe or Serrano. If a private gallery wants to display their works, and either charge admission or allow the public free access, have at it.

However I will not, nor will I ever, advocate the use of taxpayer money for such things. That someone who deems Serrano's work as Blasphemous has their money used to support such work is as abhorrent to me as it would be to have taxpayer money used to support pro-Christian art.
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Old 06-27-2007, 03:05 PM   #13
David Wood
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Guys: This is one heck of a good thread, and I would love to have it continue. A discussion of the proper role of government vs. individual responsibility is an acceptable topic.

But, as you know, we also have a ruthlessly-enforced "no politics" rule on the message board, and I gotta admit that this one will be hard to keep off that. So, please, remember . . . the moment someone takes up specific administrations past or current, or specific political parties, the thread goes in the Bucket (or, maybe, just that post is deleted and thread closed).

As you know, we tolerate a higher level of politicization (is that a word?) on the main page comments; if we do have to close it down here you could carry on there.

Thanks to all for excellent insights so far!
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Old 06-28-2007, 08:11 AM   #14
Dale F. Saran
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David - a healthy reminder. Not being anti-authroitarian, but it appears we have the usual crowd of intellectuals who can do this (come on guys, don't make a liar out of me!) without putting us into the bucket. We made it through the entire discussion on the law of war without getting launched! I'll have a reply to your points Tim, later on. But I appreciate your, what seem to me, principled beliefs on the issue. (By the way, David, if we do get in trouble - Barry started it.)
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Old 06-28-2007, 02:01 PM   #15
David Wood
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LOL :lol:. . . Barry always starts it. Fortunately, it's usually worth starting.

Personally, I'm fairly well along the libertarian end of things (but probably not as far as Tim).

I don't want the government messing in my life or body, and I don't want to be paying (via taxation) for "unnecessary" stuff.

And, like most people I know, I'm a hypocrite about it . . . it's just that most people have these weird soft spots in their heart for their favorite stuff . . . for me, it's public libraries. I was so profoundly affected (for the better) by the availability (for free) of the whole world of intelligent thought (via the library), that I see it as an absolutely essential "public good" that ought to be publicly funded via taxation.

I fully understand that not everyone will see it that way, though, and I recognize that I can't justify it from the fairly hard-core libertarianism that I favor in most other areas.
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Old 06-28-2007, 03:06 PM   #16
Tim Weaver
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Then I suppose my opposition to public libraries will come as no surprise. :-)

That said, it's a less-objectionable use of my tax money than for, say, football stadiums, hockey arenas or "wildlife panoramas" in a private business.

For the longest time, I refused to utilize the services of the public library and, for the most part, still do. Recently, however, I've taken to reading a bunch of business books, and decided that if they are going to steal my money, I will at least avail myself of the services others are getting on my/our dollar.

The one thing that really bothers me, however, is that regardless of what librarians say about censorship, there just isn't enough room to accommodate all titles....or there is an agenda.

As an example, a friend of mine wrote a novel, "A Well Regulated Militia", and wanted to donate 2 copies of it to his local library here in Arizona. Well, the head librarian took a look the title and said "we're not going to carry that type of book."

Wow. And here they go espousing the joy and wonder of "Banned Books Week". Talk about hypocrisy.

Yes, I know my going to the library makes me (somewhat?) a hypocrite, something I fully acknowledge. Were I able to NOT pay taxes for some/all city services, I would gladly stop going.

I still opine, however, that it's not the government's job to provide a "public good" beyond what might be classified as "health and safety" issues: Fire, police, and sanitation. Everything else is just largesse for the masses, IMO.

The same rule can be applied all the way up the government food chain.
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Old 06-28-2007, 05:53 PM   #17
Dale F. Saran
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Wow, Tim, that's a fairly hardcore, but at least principled, libertarian stance. I could play devil's advocate with you (lawyers love doing that stuff) but I don't have the energy right now. Better yet, I'll try to skim a little research and then offer some thoughts on what I think are essential "public services", which would include, IMO, some "liberal arts" education in high school (to try to get us back on Barry's and the speech's principle focus). Thanks, boys, more brain work!
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Old 06-29-2007, 07:10 AM   #18
Barry Cooper
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I think you have to differentiate libertarianism from what might be termed radical individualism. Personally, I don't like to use the word libertarian, because as I understand the way it is often interpreted, it leads logically to what almost might be termed a radical solipsism, and belief that the individual alone matters. Taken to its' logical limit, it makes things like centralized militaries, national highways, collective construction projects like dams and bridges, and maybe even national governments with coercive power, unjustifiable.

Tim, you admit the need for some shared services, like police, fire and sanitation, so you admit in principle the desirability for some sort of centralized functions, so the question then becomes what the extent should be. Presumably you use highways funded in part by the Federal Government. You benefit from our national military.

What I see you saying, in effect, is you don't want to be forced to give your money to people who are going spit in your face. You give the example of a librarian, on a public payroll, saying that a book should not be carried because he or she disagrees with it. You also cite this Serrano fellow as someone that should not be funded.

There are really two aspects to this. One, is the system itself desirable? Two, is the system AS IT EXISTS TODAY, desirable? To take one obvious example, if someone were to put together a photographic montage documenting the value of the 2nd Amendment in American history, you might still stick to your guns, so to speak, and argue against the desirability of the system, but it would make the whole thing much more palatable. That this is exceedingly unlikely merely highlights the apparent--and, to me, real-biasses of the system.

Thus, the question arises: should a system which CAN be biassed--and largely sheltered from democratic, popular opinion based correction--exist at public expense? This is one pole of the issue.

The contrary pole, though, is the position that just as roads have intrinsic value to the community as a whole, even though not every citizen may use every road, and the returns on investment may be difficult to calculate, so likewise does art hold the potential for being a socially desirable, community enhancing enterprise.

Norman Rockwell, for example, not only reflected, but reinforced a genteel and affable model of America. "Washington Crossing the Delaware" worked to enhance the mythic status of our greatest President. There is something about well planned public spaces that fosters, in my view, the well being of the community as a whole.

Libraries, in my view, are an engine of democracy, in that they--theoretically at least--offer popular and demographically neutral access to information, in all forms. That librarian should have been reprimanded, but that doesn't mean the library should be closed. If at some point they take that book, then the availability and popular access to your friends book has been increased, which can only be viewed, in my opinion, as good.

Speaking more broadly, and this is something I meant to mention, I think we are also suffering, culturally, from what might be termed a centralization of creativity. It is possible, now, at many delis, to buy meals which are quite good, made by someone else. You can also of course get TV dinners, and most of the range in between. You don't have to take the time to make a meal to get a meal.

You also don't have to create anything to be able to consume creativity. We have writers and actors and directors out there produce prodigious volumes of consumable entertainment. Most people, when they get home, prefer to let someone else to the thinking for them.

50 years ago, crafts of all sorts were much more popular. Model making. Rockets, kite building, painting, drawing, sculpting, quilt making. It just seems that today less people spend time making things that don't relate directly to work. Video games don't count. Any time in front of the TV doesn't count. Computers might count, as in this sort of discussion, but not if used as a consumable.

This, I think, is the meat of the objection he is making. I think we can assume he took his current position to help improve American culture, and foster projects that build. He sees farther than this, though, and points with prescience to the future need for our society to get back into the co-creation of our own reality, on a local basis.

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Old 06-29-2007, 07:31 AM   #19
Barry Cooper
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BTW,

David, thanks for the lattitude. I'll try and avoid the longitude.

Dale,

If somebody has to go to detention, I guess it probably should be me. I suppose negotiating a reactive terrain adds a level of challenge to the exercise, too, that at least for me is fun. How do you debate contentious issues without taking the easy--but content-free, in many respects--shots?
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:18 AM   #20
Franklin Shogie
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Barry,

Would you consider CrossFit to be a craft of some sort?

Or is it more of "consumable entertainment" because the WOD is published everyday on the website and no thinking need be done?

These are not "troll" questions but they arose in my mind as I reflected on what you had written.

A second point of reflection, tying together what Barry has written with the graduation speech at Stanford, is that perhaps the lack of arts in schools leads to a lack of "craftiness" in the homes.

without exposure to the arts in its various forms, incorporating some type of art or craft in the home is difficult. It's kind of like like trying to do a WOD that incorporates the snatch without having training in it, seeing a video of it, or reading a book about it.
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