"The function of the artist is to disturb.
His duty is to arouse the sleepers;
to shake the complacent pillars of the world."
— Norman Bethune*
Cultural Awakenings occur spontaneously every hundred years or so, allowing society to transcend the challenges it faces and continue moving forward. We have arrived again at this point in the great cycle of world events.
In true Renaissance spirit, these 'rebirths' have always been defined by movements in art: The Romantics, The Hudson River School, The American Regionalists. All of these artists helped 're-form' the world in positive ways; by pointing out, then marshaling resistance to, short-sighted and destructive ideologies.
Regional art inspired new, 'holistic' ways of thinking. The words, ideas and visions of Regional artists – poets and seers – provide new ways of seeing the world and new options, often when things looked most bleak. Artists, once again, are bringing fresh ideas to the table.
In our distracted postmodern world, however, who will see, hear and understand? Only those who have already awakened it would seem; those who can see beyond the media distraction to what is taking shape behind the scenes.
Artists of the Romantic era responded to environmental destruction, widespread social dislocation and the dehumanizing effects of the First Industrial Revolution.
Now the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' has arrived, according to the World Economic Forum, and it is being promoted as a corporate techno-Utopia. Increasingly though, as we look closely at these ideas, the WEF's 'vision' looks rather more like techno-feudalism – the end of democratic, civil society.
For those unfamiliar with the ideas being proposed, continue exploring 'Covid-19 The Great Reset' on the new 'Art Matters' page.
As mentioned elsewhere on the site, art provides a way of addressing this current threat to democracy and civil society, by providing a new way of seeing and understanding the world. Art's main function (as volumes of research and accepted science demonstrate) is to reconcile two very different ways of perceiving the world, by balancing the hemispheres of the brain, and – metaphorically speaking – opening our eyes.
Regional artists seek to reconnect people with nature and community; their art and ideas, therefore, counter every aspect of postmodern ideology – one of the most destructive elements of our culture today. Whenever society took a wrong turn in the past, and veered off into the realm of authoritarianism, corporatism, stifling bureaucracy, surveillance and control – it is now evident that this was the left hemisphere's influence run amok.
The great flowerings of humanity and culture, individual freedoms, democracy and civil society, however, are all associated with eras in which the right hemisphere's influence was expressed, and balance achieved once again. This phenomena, in fact, is the most elegant explanation for why patterns repeat, and are manifest in those great cycles of history.
The right-brain discerns the patterns, makes connections, and sees the big picture.
The left-brain's blinkered, narrowly focused view ees only its single 'vision' and seeks to imposed its system – single-mindedly – on the world.
We will continue this exploration, along with what it is that artists (right hemisphere artists, that is, and balanced thinkers) can see, that the left-brain (in its Borg-like, grid world) does not. We will pull aside the curtain - lift the Veil of Maya - to reveal what lies behind the surface appearance of our world, in that 'Invisible Environment' that Marshall McLuhan describes.
'Artists,' he writes, 'provide means of direct attention and enable us to see and understand more clearly.'
Artists and writers, Bertrand Russell tell us, 'must not be systematized or controlled. Some part of life – perhaps the most important part – must be left to the spontaneous action of individual impulse, for where all is system there will be mental and spiritual death.'
What Russell describes, of course, is a world created in the image of the left-brain – which loves systems and processes, and thinks as humans as machines (hence the trans-humanist movement – and the Borg). The scientific documentation of this 'psychosis' is boundless. "I want to be a machine." Stated Andy Warhol, whose mechanically-produced works reflected consumerism and celebrity – Two products of The Culture Industry. Warhol was what we might call a 'system' artist; he was part of the apparatus of the industrialized, 'systematized' culture, and a left-brain artist.
We will continue to explore these ideas, and the documented science on this front, as it is here that he the secret to these period Awakenings can be found.
The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, by Iain McGilchrist.
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
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