“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers…
Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?
The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
“I did not set out to design a geodesic dome, I set out to discover the principles operative in Universe. For all I knew, this could have led to a pair of flying slippers.”
(This relates somewhat to the book I am working on.)
I recently said no to a contest featuring my books in a popular teen mag. The prize was some postcards of mine that were completed by celebrities. I turned it down because I feel that our society has an unhealthy obsession with celebrity culture, and a need to glorify superficial qualities in people (mainly appearance) and make them into role models. This is a terrible message to send to teenagers, who are often in a difficult and challenging place emotionally, and feeling physically and socially insecure at the best of times. I was at that age. I’d like to start a movement where kids are able to see the cult of celebrity for what it is. The selling of fantasy, with a focus on “selling”, and a fixation on the superficial.
This week I read an interesting article that helped me to relax my “anti-celebrity” stance somewhat, (I believe the author is Alain de Botton, who founded the school). The School of Life posted “Why We Need Better Celebrities”, which talked about how humans have always had an inherent need for role models,
“Rather than try to suppress our love of celebrity, we ought to channel it in optimally intelligent and fruitful directions. A properly organised society would be one where the best-known people (the ones whose parties and holiday photos and clothes and new hairstyles we looked at most often) were those who embodied and reinforced the highest, noblest and most socially beneficial values.”
Aahhh, yes. Let’s start a new celebrity movement, one that seeks out people who kick ass in many different ways (who don’t just have a cool haircut, but also intellect and vision.)
Let’s also celebrate our own unique thoughts, perspectives and gifts! Let’s focus on genuine qualities in people, kindness, compassion, fortitude, determination, creativity, persistence, vulnerability, etc. Doesn’t that sound better?
For a good example of promoting solid role models, (and a genuine voice) I highly recommend Rookie Mag, they have been doing this very well for a few years now! (I so wish I had this mag when I was a teen.)
(Maybe I should revisit the contest idea, with a new approach. Hmmmnn. The way to influence culture in a healthy way is to ask for the changes you wish to see.)
I am VERY proud and honored to share with you a project I have been working on with the Post Carbon Institute. Myself and 11 other artists were asked to create posters for the Public Energy Art Kit. I also did a short video about the creation of the piece. (and I got to draw my bike). Yay!