All right, no one has posted anything here for a while, so I have something that may be a conversation starter. Maybe not. Just something I ran across.
Those who follow my blog know that I am learning to play the guitar. As I am learning to play, I am also reading Johnny Cash’s autobiography. He’s my favorite singer, and “Folsom Prison Blues” is the first song I’ve learned to play. In the book there is a paragraph that struck me as particularly interesting:
“I was talking with a friend of mine about this the other day: that country life as I knew it might be a thing of the past and when music people today, performers and fans alike, talk about being “country”…they’re talking more about choices–a way to look, a group to belong to, a kind of music to call their own. Which begs the question: Is there anything behind the symbols of modern “country,” or are the symbols themselves the whole story? …Back in Arkansas, a way of life produced a certain kind of music. Does a certain kind of music now produce a way of life?”
Something about that passage really resonated with me, because I think you could replace the word “country” with any number of art forms: screenwriting, musical theatre, painting. Or even just art in general. It seems to me that a lot of modern art, especially commercial art, stems from the artist’s desire to be seen as an artist and not a need to be an artist. “I want to live the lifestyle that goes along with being a rap star, therefore I should break into the rap industry.”
“I would like people to dote on me at gallery openings, therefore I paint.”
Maybe this is nothing new. Perhaps these people have been around since the beginning of art. Certainly seems more prevalent now. Discuss.
Is it art if it isn’t driven by the artistic impulse?
Is this a bad thing? Does using art a simply a means to an end cheapen it for those for whom art is the end itself?
If there is another discussion in there, I’d like to hear that too.