Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricanes and the Arts

We can only attempt to feel the frustration of the thousands of homeless in the South today. It is so easy to play the blame game with response times, but the reality seems more and more one of folks and governments doing about all they could do with a 90,000 square mile disaster area--a size unparalleled in any disaster this country has experienced since the New Madrid earthquake. That one literally changed the course of the Mississippi River and had it occurred now rather than in the early 19th century we might have seen an equivalent size and population impact.

It is both amazing and frightening to see how thin the veneer of civilization is when the electricity goes off, the computers die, and the phones (even cellphones) stop working. Who could imagine New Orleans looking like a 3rd world city within twenty-four hours of a levee failure. Angry people looked for instant rescue just as they see it on TV where the help always arrives in less than sixty minutes minus commercials. The truth is that the situation was more like “Lost” than “Law and Order.”

The good thing is that most of the agencies seem to have a handle on things now. That doesn’t mean it’s over, but we can hope that the hurt can begin to be converted to healing in the weeks and months to come. God bless you if you have given in some way to the recovery, and God bless you even more if you are one of the survivors.

On another sad social comment scene, I refer you to a piece by the Chicago Tribune Art Critic, Alan G. Artner, that appeared in the paper last Sunday. For full article go to:,1,4359726.story?ctrack=1&cset=true He sees the audience for serious arts continuing to diminish as people continue to grow old without growing up. Noone is maturing and putting away childish things anymore, says Artner. Pop culture, that people used to grow out of, has achieved an improbable staying power. Sixty year old rock stars and their fifty year old fans seem to be forever trying to reify and re-capture their youth rather than moving up to more complex levels of experience. Arrested development on beyond Medicare--the Hugh Hefner Syndrome perhaps. No matter, it sure does seem to have redoubled the pressure on art, classical music, and serious literature and drama.

What's in the future? This writer is up for jury duty this week for the first time in his life. We’ll let you know what happens.


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David said...

Here's the link to the Alan Artner article you reference.