Sunday, 23 May 2010

Art, Meaning and Purpose

An online article was posted last week at the following website (here) which discusses the earnings which students make after studying different subjects at university. Unsurprisingly perhaps, at the very top of the list are Law degrees followed by those in Management. At the very bottom of the list are Arts degrees.

In general, women who study at university tend to earn significantly more than their counterparts who don't go to university but male graduates from arts degrees are actually likely to earn slightly less than their peers with the same entry qualifications but who decided not to go to university.

Should art students be worried about these reported facts? If they're looking for art school to turn them into money generators then they probably should be worried, but if you were to ask any art student why they're studying, most of them will probably tell you that they're certainly not doing it as a means of becoming rich. In the following short clip, shot in 1972, of the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl he addresses exactly this very point:

"Treat a man as he is, he will remain so. Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be and should be." Goethe

So the point is an ontological one - so much less about money and more about “being” - it has everything to do with the aspirations of people to participate and make sense of the ambiguities of life and it seems fitting therefore that art, meaning and purpose are so clearly opposed to law, management and money.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant post Jim! "we have to be idealists in a way, then we wind up as the true realists"


J. Hamlyn said...

True! So I guess we need to avoid what Michelangelo warned us against:
"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it,
 but that it is too low and we reach it."

Anonymous said...

And all this I find very true for a lot of good art. There is plenty of lateral movement; both during the making and the reading of works. Perhaps there should be a new course? Something like "crabbing" or "velociraptor methodology"?

I like the analogy of the crab because it is not using the vertical plane. Not a hierarchical structure but a flat. More reminiscent of the idea of discovery, the unexpected. (i just started laughing loudly as i suddenly pictured Thomas almost obstinately aiming his camera downwards so as to avoid the linearity of preconception.)

jack wrigley said...

Thanks. I needed that. Also I have your book. Jack

Anonymous said...

Are you trying not to mention me, Jim? Didn't you see that here?

J. Hamlyn said...

Hi Sean,

You know I did but I wasn't aware there was such a thing as link copyright!!

Will be sure to mention you in future. Thought your comments on criticism and conformity ( were interesting too - they reminded me of this:

Found that one all on my own! Feel free to quote it without mentioning me!

Thanks for the link anyway.


Anonymous said...

Cheers Jim,

will have a look..

Seán said...

I see Leo Casey has followed your lead now. Synchronicity?

J. Hamlyn said...

Hi Sean,

Synchronicity? No not really - more like TED featured a link to it last month.


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