The Artist’s Dilemma

Across all the arts today, and perhaps always but most certainly today, the artist faces a decision. To be their own person, not bend the knee to grant bodies or a patron and so be throughout their lives fairly unknown to completely unknown and whatever their art is, be unheeded. Or, to bend the knee and gain recognition but by so doing not produce the art they really want to produce but a creature part them and part the expectations of whoever gives them finance.

These are not impressive alternatives and it is because they exist that artists today have not been allowed to do their job of being the conscience of their cultures. In this way fascism has encroached upon our shores once more.


I know there are things which define character very accurately, from those who are tidy in the home to those who are fusty; those who look after their appearance and those who don’t really care. There are many observations on the character traits in the human race and what types we all are. But having scanned in a good deal of my mother’s correspondence there is one aspect of our minds that defines differences very well for me and that is filing; those that do and those that’s don’t.

My mother is a don’t. I put things into folders but they are stacked on top of each other in no a particular order so I am probably a half way to don’t. My friend whom I am visiting this week is a Classics scholar and teacher and she not only is a do, she even has a filing cabinet in her office. You may think of course with computers filing is now easy and everything is alphabetical but I can assure you there are many don’ts who just stick everything on the desktop. As long as they can see it, it is filed enough.

Filing is wonderful for researchers and libraries, but for artists there is a cut off point between having everything at their finger-tips and having everything in their mind. My mother’s letters are all piled up in bags but their content, her life, is all in her mind safely stored for her to retrieve when she wants it.

She doesn’t work with categories.

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December 2018
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