16 October 2017

“What is your work?”

On the lines of Don’t discredit what is true, because it is a liar who speaks it...

A voice from many years past, a character who was at best neutral, and at worst bête noir, posed the actively fructiferous question, What is your work? It is a question, for the artist, with a wide variety of applications, at several levels.

This passage which is costing you labor to hammer it out right, is this your work? No, the finished piece which is the goal, that is my work.

This apparently irrelevant exercise which is required of you this week, this semester, this class period, is this your work? No, my work is something bigger, longer-lasting.

& cetera. These two immediate examples only scratch the surface. The question will mean more to you, Gentle Reader, as you apply it to your own workdesk.

One problem—one big problem—in the World Out There is the pressure, social, monetary, networkly, for art to be “socially relevant.” As if the Chopin e minor Prélude is insignificant because it addresses an audience of one, the listener in his own study, rather than addressing the problems in the workplace. As if to affirm the old materialistic fallacy that a pair of boots is worth more than Shakespeare.

So when I see tweets asserting (e.g.) that Art is our weapon and Art is a form of resistance, I see that which is too small, which is easy and smooth in its marketability. Click-Bait Art.

I ask the rhetorical question, Is your Art a Being to which you give birth? Or is it instead a mere tool?

What is your work?

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