Ideas Agora

Today we ask you to jam in a different way: you can open yourself a brand new discussion to share your ideas or join already open discussions below.

The focus:

We, the people of culture, let our fragmentation reduce our impact on society.
What is the first thing we need to do to reverse this trend? To become a "we"?

We against them

One of the discussions we have been having in the live jamming session is why (if) artists are special. Special as in weird, gifted, talented, egotistic... Special in all sorts of positive and not-so-positive ways.

In my view, what fosters creation is a feeling of discomfort with the world around you. There's something that doesn't quite tick right for you, so you need to make sense of it. Artistic processes are a great way to make sense of the discomfort, to air frustration with what we feel as unfair, and also to earn some self-assurance when you get the feeling you're not "normal" (and maybe you shouldn't be, the world being as crazy as it is).

Artists' discomfort represents an extreme position of what most people feel in one way or another at some point of their lives, and that's probably why so many people feel they are touched but some works of art, even if they can't say why.

So, there is a personal, unique side to the artist, but also a universal disagreement with (some aspects of) society.

It is people who don't feel comfortable with the world who try to change it. What would be point to change something you feel good about? So, artists are bound to be an unavoidable (necessary?) part of change, by showing the community what's not working. When enough people share the discomfort, social change is inevitable.

This would be the making of the "we": hey, you who feel as uncomfortable as I do with this, do you want to join me and do something about it?

Most people are not uncomfortable enough to bother to try change (it’s easier to just put up with things as they are), but won’t actively oppose change either, they can see how it would benefit them. And then there’s those who have it really good the way it is (powerful, rich people) and will use everything in their power to make you shut up and put up. So A LOT of people is necessary to make change effective, when 1% of humanity concentrates most of economical, political and military power and doesn’t want things to change at all, even if things aren’t looking that good for the other 99%.

So maybe a way to join forces is to remember we are a part of this very common 99% of people, as special (and weird, and queer, and talented, and awkward) as we might feel. And to remind it through our art to those who don’t really feel that comfortable after all: hey, you’re not a part of the really privileged 1%, are you? Why would you accept their violence, their injustice, their rules? Come change the world with me. Let’s make a WE as big as we can. Because the real “other”, the real “they” is only 1% of humanity. Let’s not forget that.

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  • such an accurate post. However, from my experience resistence does not come always or only from the powerful and rich. Change is vital and even a conflict might be a source of renewel. What worries me are the 24 pourcent of mainly young, poor educated, low incope earner that vote, out of dispair, with extreme right or populists. Therefore I do think fighting for having a say and getting back the power of decision is essential however lets be careful how the project we propose is formulated.
  • Dear Bel, I would agree that the percentage of the privileged is tiny and the majority are those who have not yet felt strongly enough the need for change, and that there is probably only a small percentage who do feel strongly enough to make the changes. I too have spent years trying to make a difference and been outcast for showing that there is another way. I am unsure why the apathy continues to limit people coming together to make change especially when you use peaceful means to demonstrate that it can work. There are so many ways artists can touch peoples emotions and these seem to be the route to enabling change. Nearing the end of this jamm, what do you sense we could pick up and work with to make change? I ask this because I want to help and yet am concerned by what feels an aggressive mood lingering, and that surely would antagonise many. Is there a more constructive way?
  • Some challenges I have run into in order to achieve that some people may
    need to overcome the awkward moment of "having to join" someone else
    be overwhelmed, exhausted, overworked (trying to make a living). alienated....
  • I think your approach is interesting and intense Bel.

    As an artist, I find myself perfectly fitting in your description of what foster creation: “In my view, what fosters creation is a feeling of discomfort with the world around you. There's something that doesn't quite tick right for you, so you need to make sense of it. Artistic processes are a great way to make sense of the discomfort, to air frustration with what we feel as unfair, and also to earn some self-assurance when you get the feeling you're not “normal" “

    I believe that most of our discomfort comes from our need to belong to the world - or to a smaller size of it - in our way, not following the style it has been imposed by society or whoever, because it doesn’t really fit our most profound needs and researches. And it is exactly for this reason that I feel that if we want to create an effective WE, we don’t have to act necessarily coordinated on whatever we do, but rather reinforce each other all on our personal and collective challenges. Each one of us is characterised by his own kind of discomfort, and that is, in my opinion, the most powerful engine on which we should foster the change we need. If I look to some of the most influential activists of the last century, I think they have been effective because they have focused their efforts exactly on the kind of discomfort and sense of exile they were directly feeling. Mandela, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcom X where black, and they fought for the right of the black people. Harvey Milk was gay, and he fought for the rights of the gay people. Suffragettes were woman, and they fought to protect their own right. It’s not always like that of course, but focusing on our own perceived difference is something which gives us an enormous force to our actions, for a very simple reason: because we feel it.

    All those activists focused mainly on the community they belong too, but they ended up inspiring movement, actions, and intention which were not directly driven to specific battle they where fighting.

    For that reason I think that if we want to create a WE, we have to focus on a common DNA, Manifesto, Meta-connection and communication, rather than on the specific battle we will fight.
    Each of us, has it own, and can reinforce and inspire first of all the people who feel the same kind of deep emotion and/or discomfort. We have to protect our personal battles, and the battles of the other people who are trying to do something similar, with similar attitude in their own fields. In that sense we can become a WE: Macro WE, with many micro I/we dedicated to their own personal almost autonomous heterogeneous challenges.

    For example, what drives me and my art (the main reasons of my discomfort) are the issue related to shame, sense of guiltiness, judgement, lack of vulnerability, lack of authenticity I feel in this society (and in myself, of course) which often asks us appearance, detachment, perfection and invulnerability. I don’t feel interested enough in other topics, like the immigration one for example, because even if I think it is absolutely relevant I can’t find the intensity to act in that direction, because I don’t feel it strong inside me, because I don’t live it in first person.
    • Carlo, your post made me realise one thing: all the activists and movement that you mentioned - that fought at different levels and with different means, but at the end they were considered as one -, had a "cause" to defend. What is ours? Is it «defending the role of art» enough?
  • There seems to be at least one reason to wish to change a society you might like in general.
    It is the conscience that this society - though comfortable and good in many aspects - is unreasonable, unfair and unsustainable. I believe many people, artist or not, have very mixed feelings about the need to change.
    • I see a lot of disillusion around, Julian. I wonder why there is no much reaction around by those who feel disillusion around. Should the distinction than be between thinkers, makers and activists?
      • Around me I see many "doers", developers of new activities; but only a few among them are "speakers"
        • speakers are important and so are negotiators, those who can strike the deals that we need to make with the various stakeholders, the diplomates for the arts
        • Maybe those who could speak don't know how to collaborate with the 'doers'?
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