From a recent visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Humans pictured are family, not random passersby.
So, we stopped to pay homage to that not-quite-most-modern of gods, Television. Its younger sibling Internet was nowhere to be found, but maybe the artist will work on that next.
I’m not sure Lord Television qualifies as king, though. There’s its parent, or perhaps grandparent, Money.
Usually people are sneering when they talk about worship of television and money. When it really is worship, there’s plenty to sneer at and I do. But like those most ancient gods Fire and Story, the reality is more complex.
Isn’t it always? We try to simplify, and the universe laughs.
I’m a big fan of Story. And Book. Fire, too, because light and cooking and all the things made of metal and plastic. But I digress.
I can say I appreciate those gods. Revere some, like Story and Book. Internet, too, if I’m gonna be honest.
I spend a lot of time with them. And that’s where worship comes in. You can say plenty about what constitutes worship, but the basis is time spent and the devotion of attention and thought.
Lots of my time and attention and thought goes into Story and Book. Certainly into Internet – – have you seen how much I tweet? You should see how much I read there.
And I do end up giving what feels like too much time to mighty Television. Maybe I’m a worshiper of that one, too.
If we manage to nuke ourselves to extinction, alien archeologists will likely wonder if our televisions and computers aren’t altars.
They won’t be far wrong.
Follow the Leaders: one piece in a series by artist Isaac Cordal.
You may have seen the piece of art above already. It has been bouncing around the internet for some years now, often billed as “politicians debating sea level rise” or “…climate change.” Well, it kind of isn’t, and it kind of is, and following the link in the caption might shed some light on it.
It is a FANTASTIC representation, inadvertent or otherwise, specifically of the current US GOP/Trumpite approach to climate change and rising sea levels.
And that approach…
…yeah. That’s going to be SUPER EFFECTIVE.
But our Fearless Glorious Leader and his Band of
Thugs Merry Men (they’d surely call it sexist to acknowledge the women who choose to support him rather than lump them together under a masculine collective) aren’t restricting themselves to climate change. If you’ve been following current political events, he/they is/are not just ignoring climate change science, but rolling back environmental protections that have cleaned up industry-polluted land, water, and air over the last 40 years, acting to revive coal use and hobble the increasing use of solar and wind power generation, which I might add, is rising because it is now cost effective due to technological advances perpetrated by that terrible villain, science.
In other words, the 21st century is SCARY and THINGS ARE CHANGING and LET’S HIDE IN THE 20TH CENTURY. Unless you’re a public school student, in which case they’re shooting for the 19th century. No, really. The target there is getting rid of all those troublesome public schools and leaving education to corporations and churches, which I’m sure will work out great in an alternate timeline where suddenly technology stops working.
The only problem is that hiding in the past is a gigantic mistake, and it will always be. Yes, there’s such a thing as tradition. But traditions only make sense as long as they help people. If things change and they become harmful, or you realize they’ve been harmful all along and we don’t have a need to accept that harm — I’M LOOKING AT YOU COAL WITH YOUR BLACK LUNG AND OPEN PITS AND TOXIC RUNOFF AND OH WHAT A SHOCK BURNING THOUSANDS OF ANCIENT FORESTS IN CONCENTRATED FORM EVERY DAY MIGHT RELEASE GASES THAT CHANGE THE CLIMATE A TAD GEE WHIZ WHO WOULDA THUNK IT — then you say “yay, positive change!” and start using wind turbines to charge your iThingiee. And we all breathe a little easier, and people who live near the ocean like me start thinking that maybe, just maybe, our descendants won’t have to flee farther inland in the 22nd century.
(This post appeared on my Patreon page on 26 February 2016. They see blog posts three days early — plus, when I publish a new eBook they get a FREE .pdf copy even if I charge for it elsewhere! So you should totally become a patron. Not only will I appreciate it, but my wife and three children will appreciate it too. New patrons cheer me up, give me a fresh shot of no, really, this writing thing will support us some day optimism. And that inspires me to write more, which is a good thing. Daddy gets crabby when he’s feeling pessimistic and the writing won’t flow.)
I think the general inspiration for this one is pretty obvious. There have long been unpaid internships in various fields, but there has been an explosion of them, and other unpaid work, of late.
“Exposure” is the coin offered especially to people who work in the various arts. I say “coin” but we all know how much exposure is really worth: pretty much zero. It’s a lottery ticket, basically — hey, write for HuffPo (yes, I mean to pick on them because they sure as hell pull down enough profit to pay contributors, though they are far from the only offenders) for nothing, and maybe someone will offer you a paying job! Maybe someone will start buying your work because they saw your name here!
And there is a pretty big population of people who just love to say, “just get a better job, you bum.” Well, that’s an easy thing to say, isn’t it? It spares the speaker from thinking, and erects a nice barrier of ignorance and not-giving-a-shit to shield them from having to consider that someone trying to make a living from the arts is an entrepreneur — something that type generally loves as long as it’s in a profession that’s respectable in their eyes, like building houses for them, fixing their cars, cooking their food, or cleaning their toilets.
But art, their thinking goes, is worthless bullshit. Some folks who should know better, like Arianna Huffington, think the same so long as the art — creative nonfiction, in the case of the website she built up and sold off for hundreds of millions of dollars — profits them instead of the creator.
That kind of dismissive and self-absorbed thinking, my friends, is the real bullshit, and it only makes it harder to become financially self-supporting as a writer or website developer or a maker of fine webcomics or videos or podcasts or whatever your creative poison is.
(Also, a coda: sometimes it’s damned hard to “get a better job,” too. Unemployment, at least in the US, is pretty damn low. But more of that employment than ever is either part-time, sans benefits, part of the app-contractor economy (think Uber and Lyft) that skirts labor laws including minimum wage, or part of the wage structure that has been losing ground to inflation pretty much every year since somewhere in the 1970s. It’s not going to get any better, either. Not only are unpaid internships and exposure markets (sounds like a sex crime, doesn’t it? But it’s not… quite) growing, but automation hasn’t even gotten properly started yet. There’s a lot of talk about it, and a lot of disagreement over just how many jobs it will ultimately take out of circulation, but look for the impact to be large over the next two or three decades. The number of “better jobs” is shrinking, and it will only shrink faster in the near future.)