Elsewhere (194)
Friday Ephemera

Lofty Beings

In the pages of Everyday Feminism, creative colossus Katherine Garcia is attempting to justify her suboptimal life choices and their suboptimal consequences:

I am – and always have been – a daydreamer. There is proof of this in my school records, which contain copious notes from teachers, commenting on the disproportionate amount of time I spent looking out the window, compared to the amount of time I spent paying attention to their lectures. And to this day, I dread anything that gets in the way of my daydreaming.

Hey, I didn’t say she was doing it well. But in short, Ms Garcia regards work outside of her creative endeavours as “very distracting,” chiefly because,  

it doesn’t allow me to zone out like I need to in order to reach the level of mental creativity so necessary to my well-being.

A delicate flower in a cruel world.

My creativity has been criticised because it’s viewed as unnecessary, distracting, disrupting, and a waste of time.

Well, in part I suppose that depends on whether or not that creativity and extensive daydreaming – all that zoning out - pays the bills.

I know from experience that it’s damn near impossible to think straight, let alone get anything done, while worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills on an empty stomach.

Ah. Apparently, “society” is deterring life’s daydreamers from “pursuing creative fields – like fine art, film-making, writing, music, and dance.” And there’s an inexcusable “failure to acknowledge the contributions made by creative people in all sectors of society,” which makes said daydreamers feel guilty and inadequate, which is terribly oppressive.

Coming from a low-income family, it seemed more beneficial to pursue a career in business – something that would bring more immediate rewards that I could then transfer over to my family.

Not a trivial point. In financial terms, the lifetime return on an arts degree is very often negative and there’s something to be said for practicality, especially if your background is a modest one. Social mobility presupposes a certain realism, a pragmatism, and making choices accordingly – say, with regard to the costs and benefits of tertiary education, which is for most an expensive one-time opportunity. Perhaps now is a good time to glance at Ms Garcia’s biography:  

Katherine Garcia… is a recent college graduate with a BA in Radio, TV and Film, and soon-to-be graduate school student pursuing a Masters in Women and Gender Studies.

As I was saying, pragmatism. Ms Garcia, however, is determined to find fault elsewhere: 

Creative work is… something that society infantilises and dismisses as hobbies or something only children do – not as a way to make a living. When this happens, it causes creative work to be severely undervalued to the point that we begin to charge less for our work or even work for free!

The term “severely undervalued” sounds just a wee bit question-begging. A thing is generally worth whatever someone is prepared to pay for it.

This means we are unconsciously contributing to the harmful assumption of the starving artist and exploiting our own work. It’s what allows others to do the same and keeps this oppressive cycle operating.

Note the slyly catch-all term “creative work.” So far as I can make out, the creative people who earn a living in, say, visual effects departments or smartphone design aren’t generally regarded as infantile hobbyists. It does matter what kind of creative work a person is indulging in, along with the skill with which they do it and whether there’s a market for those skills and their results. To bundle all kinds of creativity together, and all levels of expertise, as if no distinctions should be made, as if all were equally valuable, is both woolly and disingenuous. And as for an “oppressive cycle,” I’m inclined to suggest that getting into further debt for a grad school degree in Women and Gender Studies is possibly not an ideal way to help one’s family economically, or indeed oneself.

However, these are prosaic matters and pale beside the grandeur and importance of being a creative person, and thereby hovering on higher moral planes:

Creatives, we are multi-dimensional creatures. Let’s not let our abilities be defined, limited and constrained. Let them flourish like the enlightening work we do… The work we do is important and it is empowering, particularly when it is bringing awareness to social justice issues. Much of creative work does exactly this while other sectors of society refuse to acknowledge the social ills we endure and even erases them.

You see, Ms Garcia, by virtue of being a creative person, is a thinker of profound and important thoughts, a bringer of wisdom, a multi-dimensional creature, one whose oppression is being erased and belittled by society. Possibly on account of her enlightening radicalism.

Lordy, a button. I wonder what it does.