R.K.: A lot of the book is about the artists. So you kind of vaguely alluded to it, let's get into that. I'll start off throwing a quote at you, from you, you say art is the practice of freedom. Culture enlarges our spirits, connects us to our past, our future, and each other and enables the imagination and empathy that support individual and collective resilience.
I love it, it's a beautiful line. And let's use that as a take off to go wherever you want to talk about how art is going to contribute to the shift in what we're looking at, what we're paying attention to, and the way our culture functions.
A.G.: Okay, thanks Rob. Well I want to talk about two different ways I think quickly. One is in terms of the capacities and skills that we need to face the future and develop a future that we want to bring into being. One argument I am making throughout these books is that the skills that are intrinsic to artistic practice; imagination, especially social imagination, empathy, the capacity to create a moment in which we feel something of who the other is and what the other is experiencing.
Improvisation, resourcefulness, resilience, a frame of mind in which everything isn't structured around avoiding making mistakes, but you understand that trial and error is the only way that we really gain from our experience. So all of these capacities are very much the core capacities of art makers. In all forms, I'm talking about people who make music, people who make art, people who do visual art, drama and dance, the whole ball of wax.
All have the development of those skills and those I argue are the skills that everyone in this society needs now. It's not having the three cars, it's the capacity to look at what's in front of us. Imagine a different reality. Re-purpose the broken pieces of the old reality in order to bring it into being. And we could all learn from our participation in art, from our art-making, how to develop those skills and capacities.
I'm particularly focused on imagination and empathy because when I look around I think that the golden rule, the notion of not doing to others what you would hate to have happen to yourself seems to me to be the DNA of all moral and social constructively social systems, a humane system. And that in order to live by the golden rule we have to have a really developed capacity for empathy to imagine ourselves as the other.
And art, the way to get there, when you sit in the theater and you cry because of something you see on the stage or on the screen, it's not that you know that actor and you're relating to that person as an individual, it's that the artists, working together have managed to generate an experience that's strikes a chord within you and enables you to connect to that experience in a way that's complete. Body, emotions, mind, and spirit.
So learning those capacities felt really critical to me and that's one of the really strong themes. And then the other question is what are people doing with their time these days, how do they learn? And what I see is when a film comes out that excites a conversation about racism, Twelve Years a Slave, a recent one, then suddenly around the country we have a dialogue on racism that is much more vital and vibrant.
Different people participate in it. There's a different ground for it than what is a response to a white paper that's been generated by a think-tank somewhere or a story in the newspaper even. I notice that when people want to console each other now, they give each other play-lists. They console each other with music. I have noticed how many people are involved in writing poetry that they might put in a drawer, taking photographs, since the advent of YouTube we have become a nation of filmmakers and I would argue that the short film has probably become our primary lingua franca in political discussion.
So no matter how you look, people are opting in a completely voluntary way to enter into this realm of art and culture as the primary mode of expression, communication, and connection with each other. And I think the old paradigm just hasn't been able to bring that change into focus yet but I hope my books will help people to see that.
R.K.: So your book with twenty eight different aspects of art and culture, am I saying that properly? Twenty eight reasons to pursue the public interest in art.
A.G.: That's right.
R.K.: Can you talk a little bit about that specifically?
A.G.: Well I wrote this book with two different arguments. One part is an extended essay on corporation nation in art and how the pickle that we're in has developed. The section that has the twenty eight arguments is entitled Hidden in Plain Sight and basically it looks at a number of different aspects in brief chapters. My idea was something you could read in twenty minutes, half an hour at the most and feel like you've learned something.
So for example, talking about the way that we shape our stories shaping our lives. How you meet two people who are suffering from the same challenge, we both lost our jobs. I find a way to look at that as an opportunity to reconsider what matters most to me and what I want to go towards and shape a new story of my life. Another person finds a way to think, I'm being punished again, to subside into just a kind of pliant despair.