Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art Question: Is it too late?

Recently, in response to a comment I made on Facebook that I think it is too late for humans; we have so polluted the world that it is hostile to life and that humans are beyond the point of no return, I was asked the following question by R. S.:

"Mark, if it's too late, what are any of us doing rearranging deck chairs on the titanic?"

Is this an art question? Absolutely. This is at the heart of what I do with my art, not in a technical craft-making manner but in a philosophical aesthetic manner. We have not learned our lessons as a species. We have been warned for millennia (literally) that our ego, our greed and our fears will get in the way of our existence, they will be our end. And yet here we are, not on the doorstep, but having walked through the doorway into the kitchen and are bent over looking in the refrigerator for a beer and a leftover boneless BBQ chicken wing cheeseburger. I do not want to partake in this destruction, but by the very nature of my existence in this society, it is inevitable. Can people work hard to create change? YES. Can people pull together to make this a cleaner greener world? YES. Can we save ourselves from the destructive powers we have unleashed on this planet? NO. It is too late for that. And the most amazing part of all this is that after being in existence in our current form for over ten thousand years, we were able to end everything with our actions of only the last one hundred and fifty years. A blink of an eye, really.

So, am I rearranging deck chairs on the titanic? No. Were people in WWII concentration camps wasting their time creating choirs and drawing and painting in their shelters? No. Because our world is ending, should we stop being ourselves, stop doing what we love, stop working with people to make it a better world? No. Were the musicians on the Titanic wrong to be playing as the boat went down? No. They were musicians and gave of their talents to make that horror-filled world a little better? I am a artist and a writer - what else would I do? I will continue to paint and express myself until the end whenever I die, whenever this world dies. I am a community organizer and I will also continue to organize people and communities to make this a better world. Why? Because I want to live in a better world than the one I live in today. Does that mean I will help save everyone from death brought on by our environmental collapse? No, it is beyond that.

Our financial system collapsed last year. Many people, experts and economists, had been predicting it for up to six or eight months before it happened. Yet, most people were taken by surprise. Now, the scientists and experts are telling us that our environmental system is on the verge of collapsing. Are you going to be taken by surprise?

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