having a vision

apropos the didactic – once again …

I have read a short piece by Frank Furedi today. Not necessarily an antidote to de Botton’s art-therapy-project. But definitively a problematization of governmental utility thinking. Here are some thoughts to share from one of Furedi’s texts:

  1. There was a time when, as the Oxford English Dictionary stated, vision meant “something which is apparently seen otherwise than by ordinary sight”. A real visionary such as Jules Verne could transcend the limitations of his time and see the outlines of the future. His vision is very different to one that can be manufactured through a consultation exercise. Real visions catch visionaries unaware. Today we have vision constructed to a timetable through the medium of a public-relations exercise. It is evident that whatever the minister incites us to “shape” or “articulate” has little to do with a prophetic insight.
  2. Real art transcends conventional boundaries and excites the imagination so that it cannot be translated into the technical jargon of policy making.
  3. When art is treated as a medium for achieving a policy objective, its impact will be translated into the language of figures.
  4. Art is not an all-purpose antidote to the failings of societyI.
  5. There is no doubt that arts and culture stimulate the imagination and enhance the quality of life. But the creative tension contained within art and culture drives the imagination in unexpected directions. Its very unpredictability, together with its capacity to disturb, challenge, inspire and disrupt, means that so often art subverts the intentions of officialdom.
  6. It is not always the case that art and culture raise self-esteem or encourage the project of social inclusion. Some forms of art and culture can overwhelm the individual and undermine their assumptions. Art can truly disturb and distract and may not foster “lateral thinking” or “innovative solutions”. Experience shows that far from being inclusive, great art and cultural innovation may well offend and alienate parts of the community.


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