Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Studio news: picking my battle

Light without flames. 24"×18". Oil on canvas panel. 2013
For some time now, I have been wondering why my life has grown so detached from the urgent issues of the age. You know: overpopulation, climate change, economic troubles of the world. A painter, all right, but I am not painting polar bears suffering from the climate change, nor homeless on the streets of San Francisco, nor even landscapes devastated by pollution. I paint flowers and sonnets, and what could possibly be less relevant to the problems the humankind faces, right? 

Wrong, in fact, and that's what I have understood today, although it seems glaringly obvious now (isn't it always the case with simple truths?). Because just imagine what would happen if (just imagine it for the sake of argument, just for a little moment, however unrealistic it might seem) millions of people preferred opening a book of poetry to a shopping spree, and visiting a museum over dining out, and a subscription to a symphony hall over buying a new gadget?   

Instead of putting an additional strain on the planet's resources, they all would be tapping into the only infinite resource we have, our minds; a bounty as boundless as the sea. The only segment of global economy that can grow exponentially, and actually enrich our lives instead of undermining our livelihood. The staggering increase in material productivity and automation gives the humankind the long-awaited freedom to pursue this really meaningful life of ideas, thoughts, art, spirit; but, instead, it is perceived as a threat of unemployment and global collapse.  
The claim of primary importance of the inner, non-material life is, of course, rather old news. But the humankind seems to be at the point when it simply has no other choice; arguably, it's now a matter of life and death, of the survival of the planet. So, you see, in the end, there is hardly anything more urgently relevant in this battle than Shakespeare's sonnets. 

And this is the battle I choose to fight.   

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