October 8, 2008

Money, Power, Art, & Identity

Who are you?Nicolette Bethel has begun a very interesting conversation about art, culture, and money over at Blogworld which began a series of thoughts in my mind that were too complicated to leave in her comments—I didn’t want to hog her space.

At it’s simplest level, the conversation is about the perennial issue of art vs. money. As I hinted at in my post about Maslow, the people with money or those who pursue power are often operating on a lower level of self-actualization and do not possess the kind of curiosity to make or appreciate the value of art to the individual and the community. They may buy books or own several paintings, but they are often clueless about the true worth of art. All they know is how many units (their language for books) were sold or how much they paid for a painting.

And when a confrontation occurs, like the one described by Obediah Michael Smith, I’m often reminded by the scene in Shakepeare in Love (where the question is repeatedly asked, "Who are you?") between Fennyman (the producer) and Alleyn (the actor), and talent (momentarily) trumps money:

A moment, sir!

Who are you?

I am the money!

Then you may remain so long as you
remain silent. Pay attention and you
will see how genius creates a legend.

Thank you, sir.

It’s not that I don’t have any respect for money, but as Dorothy Parker said, "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."

In other words, culture is too important to be left in the hands of people who only know about money or power.



Nicolette Bethel said...

Hear, hear! Thanks for the plug and the continuation of the discussion, Geoffrey.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Thanks for starting the discussion, Nicolette. It's an important one.