Tuesday, March 29, 2011

too much time

Earlier this year, I showed my students a short video on Andy Goldsworthy, a sculptor who works by re-arranging things in nature. When I asked my first-period class what they thought, one young chap in the front row replied, "I think he's got too much time on his hands."

This did not surprise me, because I have noticed that most times when someone links a cool and creative video through facebook, someone else has to take it upon himself (yes, it's always a guy) to point out that the people who made it had too much time on their hands.

I suppose these dissenters would prefer the artists to spend that time watching television programs, like a good little sheeple, or doing something more practical and highly effective, like writing a letter to a congressperson.

My guess, however, is that what really annoys these art-devaluators is that people like Andy Goldsworthy exist at all. They are annoyed that there are people who get to have a great time for a living, doing something creative. Most of us work at destructive, demeaning jobs - jobs that only by a far stretch of the imagination could be categorized as "good work." They usually contain some constructive elements, but on the whole play into a culture and a system where creativity is seen as a luxury, and destruction a necessary and even pleasurable by-product of wealth-accumulation.

And I think we sense the not-goodness of this, and resent someone who lives, to a much greater degree, outside of it. We resent him his slower-paced life. We resent him his peace, his beautiful surroundings, his lack of stress.

So instead of listening, enjoying, and possibly learning what he could potentially teach us... we laugh, imagining ourselves superior to a man who, by his own admission, listens to rocks.

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