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Monday
Jan212013

Fast Food for Thought: A World Without Art

This is the first blog I wrote for my band’s website, www.thegibsonblock.com

Hello ladies and gentlemen. I am El Denito Frigoni, also known as Denis Frigon: drummer, dreamer, world destruction schemer. And today, I wish to discuss one such world ending scheme. As I enter into the foray of continued post-secondary education, many thoughts cross my mind. Education of any type is something I personally find enriching though it may be a tad dry and taxing at times. But lately, when I think of the outcomes of my efforts at school, I think about the outcomes of the efforts in other aspects of my life. Mainly, music. I love my band and my band mates. And I love the Edmonton scene. And today, I would like to share a short dystopian future scenario with all you kindly readers:

The year is 2100. The Setting: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. All Canadians are now part of the GUEA: The Global Union of Economic Advancement. This is quasi-national branch of corporate cooperation that has fought long and hard for the disintegration of workers unions and end of corporate regulations and tax rates. Through corporate lobbying, Children at the age of 6 are now mandated to wear arm bands with computer touch screens to facilitate learning and and develop good habits. The armband reads the child’s vital statistics and suggests age appropriate consumer products to satisfy needs. When children enter school, they are given intelligence and emotional aptitude tests that group them academically and socially with their best matches. Primary, Secondary, and Post-Secondary schools have become fully integrated extensions of the HR departments of corporations, and cirricula is now solely based on vocational training for the maintenance of corporate function. Adolescents have difficulty keeping touch with their emotional peers as vocational aptitudes force them into different streams of education. However, new friends can be made by connecting to gaming and social networking platforms through the armband. Friends are suggested by computer algorithms based on consumption patterns. In the final stage of education, a 22nd century adult will be selected for specialized vocational training and will be given a job that suits his or her aptitudes. Options include: fast food service, transportation service or manufacturing, necessary systems maintenance, or management. There are no arts left in society besides those drawn upon by managers to effectively market products. Upon graduation, an apartment and automobile are selected by the graduate. Work begins: It is 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, with minimum compensation. If one has opted to sign up on a dating site, one might peruse the following profile: “Hello, my Name is John Doe. I work at Whendies, but I enjoy Kansas Fried Chicken. I don’t like Whendies because I’ve seen how food gets made there. But don’t worry, I stay in shape because I work out at Globogym (it’s the gym for ME). I drive a Ferd because it is better than all other cars. When Saturdays roll around, I like to drive my Ferd to Kansas Fried for a treat of the #8 Combo. If you would like to join me at Kansas Fried Chicken, send me a text, ez-mail, voicecom, or instahologram.”

What I’m trying to illustrate here is that I sometimes question what a world without art would be like. After all, if we all worked in fast food, and simply spent our weekends at chain restaurants that were not our employers, that would be a pretty bland existence. This strikes me as a possible frightening end to a century of growing corporate power. Churchill has been quoted saying this: “Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.” But I think that there may have been some shift away from this thinking. Recent years have shown that the future is far less predictable than it has in the past, largely due to technology. This is a positive but also could be negative. For example, Minimum wage laws have not kept up with the poverty line as time as gone on largely due to the mechanization/automations of jobs. Therefore, art may eventually squeezed out of our society simply because people can not afford to pursue it. Many of the creators that I know hold other jobs to support their endeavours. This could be seen as encouraging in a way, but it’s also a little disturbing. What would be even more disturbing would be to have no art at all. This could be caused by the need to support oneself in an economically uncertain world. I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyone should make an attempt to support art at a grass roots level. I am so thankful to live in Edmonton where this is the case more often than not. The Edmonton scene is so alive with support in the form of bands supporting one another when they play, and artists crossing over to each others disciplines to increase the scope of art in the community. There are even venues like the Root Cellar where incredible people have opened up their homes to be the safe havens of artistic expression. All of this content and effort has a high value. I think the economic and societal norms that have been imposed or supposed in recent years have led to a dwindling of artistic value in dollar terms. But even if we cannot express the value properly in dollars, we should know that the desire to create and express is almost priceless when compared with the bleak and boring alternative. So, as much as we all must answer the call of money to simply stay alive, I believe that it is art that makes us thrive. Celebrate the music, dance, paintings, photos, books, blogs, videos, films, and objects around you. They are beautiful, and we should value them with our minds where our economics fall short. Cheers everybody.

Reader Comments (2)

True. A world without art would be a sad place indeed. People SHOULD realize its value. But they don't, by and large. A century ago Berlioz (who was also a trained physician and made his money mostly doing musical transcription) said it best: Music is a noble art and a sad profession. So don't confuse the two. If you have something to say musically, if you absolutely MUST say it/ you can't keep it in/ it's killing you to do so, then it will find its way out no matter what. Preferring music to be a profession is a path littered with compromises. Playing music you don't like for money is one, writing songs you don't respect but think will sell is another, associating with people with whom you have little in common but feel are conduits to the "big time" is a third.
So all I can say, after decades in the business, is be careful for what you wish. There is nothing so cold as the realization of an empty dream.

January 23 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Pearson

Thanks for your comment Andrew. What a great quote, and thanks for the insight :)

January 30 | Registered CommenterDenis Frigon

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