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Re: BOOK_ARTS-L Digest - 17 May 1996 to 18 May 1996

Donald Kuspit, (a very good writer) predicts that .... <snip>

"The sense of being engaged in a process of work that is at the economic
bottom a means of accumulating capital undermines one's existential sense
of individuality.  It is ultimalely altogether deindividualizing-
robotizing.  Craft means repersonalization of work in a world of
depersonalized work."

Is there hope???

This is good writing? Yuck. The number of syllables per word should never be
a benchmark of -- nor a substitute for -- clear, understandable writing (or

If the goal of writing is communication, this work fails. Like many of you, I
am actively involved in the arts as a way of life, and so I would pick up
this magazine and turn to this article with a great deal of interest, only to
put it down after reading only two or three paragraphs. His message would
have been lost, some tree flesh and clay wasted, and a bit of my precious day

I'm reminded of Joyce's discussion of art vs. pornography in *Portrait of an
Artist as a Young Man*, where art is what can bring one to a sense of rapture
or stillness and pornography moves one to possess.  In a narrow sense, one
can substitute *adverstising* for Joyce's use of pornography--as
advertising's primary purpose is to encourage a desire to own the object of

The distinction of *art* vs. *craft* is an interesting and sometimes
artificial one baised by one's likes and dislikes.  Is oil painting *fine
art* and wooden whirley-gigs *craft*? In my own very limited way, I think
that craft is the process, while art is the result. Whether one fails or
succeeds often depends on the skill in craftsmanship; whether one produces
art or pornography depends on one's intentions. The problem, of course, lies
in the fact that the creator must find some balance between creating an
object of beauty, and living in a society that is motivated/determined by

An additional concern is, of course, the purchasers of art. What is their
intention? Fewer people nowadays purchase art based on the merit of the piece
or how it moves them, than by the name of the artist or the subject of the
piece.  (Having just returned from a Western Art Show, I had this point
hammered in again and again. So much effort was directed to marketing that
many of the artists felt detached from their work. One even confided that
many weren't what she wanted to put her name on, but she needed the sales.) A
poor work from a known artist will most likely sell for more than a great
work from a not-so-well-known artist.  Again, a symptom of a society that
sees merit based on money and marketing.

Our society sees quality of life as available only for those who can afford
it; we determine value based on economic returns. But for an artist, art is a
way of life that transcends those limitations, as the process of creating
provides ample rewards and sometimes succeeds in cancelling out the subtle
seeds of greed planted by those farmers of advertising.

Neither art nor craft is dead nor will it ever be as long as there are
humans. It is in our nature to create. As society becomes more
technologically based, as people become more removed from art, art will
become a need.  It may not appear as a NEED, but it will be there and they
will seek it. The key is distraction and focus. The more distractions placed
in front of us, the less we realize the need. Without quiet time, the call of
art can't be heard over the din of TV, work, bosnia, or whatever. But
eventually, perhaps even at some point in most people's life, they will sense
the need to dip into the creativity of the soul.

The pendulum keeps swinging...

OK, I'll get off the pulpit now.

homer christensen
past times paper company

And hey, if you have time and are so inclined, visit the www version of my
poetry book *One Hand on the Doorknob of Life* at:

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