16 Nov, 15

John Roderick

What kind of impact does music have in our world?

I've always imagined that the hierarchy of truth starts with non-fiction at the bottom, because non-fiction is limited by facts and so can hardly be true. Next up is the novel, which can be much truer by virtue of being able to tell a story, but only partly true because of being confined by a story.

Next in order of truthfulness is the short story: all the truth of a novel without the extra lying. After the short story comes the poem, and that is where the balance of truth starts to really shift. The best poems are the most truthful of all the literary forms. If you keep going up from there you arrive at the finest, shortest poems which contain multitudes of truth.

From there, from the leaping off point of the very best poem of all human history, if you keep traveling into the ether higher and higher, eventually you will encounter a child absentmindedly playing a kazoo. That is where the truthfulness of music begins.

How do we ensure that artists' voices are heard?

Artists are vulnerable, they make things that people want but they don't know how to market or sell those things, they don't know how or don't want to apply for grants or defend themselves against accusations of degeneracy, they don't want to brag or swagger about their work or hear effusive praise, and they mostly have no interest in competing for prizes or working for hire. People want art and need art, they crave it and seek it. Religion didn't give us art, art gave us religion. Now capitalism has turned art into product, domesticating it on the wheel of the market, and has reduced our natural emotional engagement to an mercantile exchange.

Until we are able to talk about the "value" of art without resorting to money, to talk about its civic value, its moral value, its emotional value, and to place money in a secondary relationship to those higher values, then we'll always be asking "how do we help artists?" instead of the natural question, "how can artists help us?"

By John Roderick, distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.

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