An inherited earth Tuesday May 16, 2006, 3 comments

The problem with the world today is that its run by engineers and money men. Quantitative thought has dominated all other modes of cognition – possibly past the point of no return.

Money men have systematically cut qualitative thought from our school programs, shielding children from arts and music and literature, raising them on a diet of maths and sciences. Engineers have helped, technology companies funding school systems in order to sway future purchasing decisions in their favor.

It lacks soul. There’s no life in numbers or money. There must be more to the world than consecutive profitable quarters and faster, smaller, cheaper computer chips. There must be life, and light.

There must be balance and consideration. Since the 1950s, design (excepting graphic design, which was recognized as an excellent tool to convince the masses to buy more) has slowly been pushed aside by low prices. After all, only a few will choose design over a lower price, and those people aren’t money men or engineers, and therefore aren’t enough of a market.

I lament the loss of art in schools. I lament the loss of music. I lament the loss of creative writing as anything more than a tool of marketing. I lament the loss of the human soul.

The geek truly has inherited the earth.


Jorge Wednesday May 17, 2006

The problem with art in schools is that people are teaching art that don’t really understand what they are doing in some cases.

Too many artists are spending more time making money than actually passing on knowledge.

Adrian Wednesday May 17, 2006

Symptomatic, perhaps.

Too many artists are spending more time making money so they can continue making art in a world run by bean counters and engineers.

As art is marginalized more and more, it becomes increasingly difficult for artists to do what they do.

There is no demand for art teachers any more – only maths and sciences.

It has become a self-destructive inward spiral, and its nearing its end.

I’m writing about this later today.

Daniel Wednesday May 17, 2006

As a man on the edge of returning to university to finish his math degree (undergrad), I have to counter the idea that ”[t]here is no life in numbers….”. I see numbers (and, necessarily by proxy, mathematics) as simply another facet of the same thing you can get to through art. I hesitate to name it, because these names carry too much baggage. Some call it “Creation”, others “the universe”, others “beauty,” and yet others several other things.

There’s no separating art and design from spatial and logical and even probabilistic underpinnings. Jackson Pollack’s paintings, for instance, have been analyzed for their fractal properties with quite amazing results. The second link recounts the author’s attempt to recreate Pollack-style painting using natural forces to guide the dripping. It’s really interesting. This is quite beyond the fact that some understanding, even if only through observation and not pedagogy, of science and the mathematics of proportions is just about required for a painter to work with mixing colors or understanding harmony. Those artistic capabilities needn’t be codified in the language of math or science to stem from same.

Still, I agree that we’re becoming ever more commodified. Budgetary problems nearly reduced my kids’ school district to cutting the school day to 5 hours, removing all bussing, and cutting such superfluous courses as art and physical education. This (and, yes, I know it’s not this simple) in a time when oil companies see record profit highs and we’re contemplating a manned Mars mission. Clearly, someone’s priorities are f’ed up.

That’s not the fault of math, or engineers, or architects, or art students. Nor is it the fault of art that a sizable portion of U.S. students graduating from high school can’t identify their own country by its outline (17% according to a report from around a decade ago, and I don’t see a reason the state of things would’ve changed since). Nor is it the fault of art or math or underwater sock weaving that we can’t provide an adequate philosophical education which might short-circuit the FUD of intelligent design advocates.

So, I’ve babbled off the point, which is that there is as much soul in numbers and engineering, as I see it, as in art. Not a similar soul, necessarily—not a similar viewport to the thing from whence “soul” comes to us. This is a baby and bathwater kind of issue.

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