Recognition, Respect and Art

The lines have always been blurred and are more so today. Recognition has always been the first step taken in coming to respect. It’s the part you do by yourself. You see something. You understand it. You react to it. You feel it. Respect goes the other way.

The reaction to recognition is where respect comes in, or for that matter indifference. But, I digress. Respect is a payment for something we recognize. It can be a thank you or an award. It can be a hug or it can be money. In any event, it’s something given in recognition. In a sense, it completes the circle. The form respect takes has implications with historical roots. There are a number of examples I might use, but I’d like to use art, for the purpose of completing a conversation that started earlier today.

Art is both an obsession that’s distinctly human and a life style, complete with social and economic implications. Art, in a sense, branched with human evolution and has developed in parallel with our species. Art is older than money or government and will probably survive us, in some form, when we’re gone. Art is a fundamental human value. So, I want to use art as an example of the effect access has on the relationship between recognition and respect.

Cave drawings, stories and song, in ancient tribal times, were only accessible to a few. If you lived in or came upon a place where drawings dressed the walls, or were with someone when they were exciting imaginations with the story of a hunt, or were listening to a sobbing mother wail for the loss of a child… if you were there, you could recognize the impact of that art. If you were there, you could pay respects to the story teller with gifts or gasps. If you were there you could hug the sobbing mother and hold her while she shook out the last of her loss and emptied her soul of her sorrow. If you were there you could complete the circle and give respect. The drawings were different though.

Unless you were there, when they were done, the drawings were left, for others to find. The artist may have moved on. The permanence of the art, now separated from the artist, gave the viewer a chance to recognize it, but the opportunity to pay respect to the artist was gone.

Stories and Songs became portable, when proxies stepped in. Actors evolved to retell famous stories and singers carried songs of sorrow and joy to new audiences. But, cave drawings were as unportable as the cave walls they were on, while the artists moved on.

In a way, separating cave drawings from the artists established precedence. It divorced the expectation of respect from the act of recognition. It set up the dilemma of art for art’s sake. It provided endless opportunities for enjoyment and few for compensation. It’s a curse that’s returned to haunt hungry artists in their time of need. It’s the escape clause for people who just want to look. It’s the economic puzzle that keeps coming back over time.

About jackdetate

Married, 2 children, retired, enjoying unstructured time: "And then he drank a dew From a convenient grass, And then hopped sidewise to the wall To let a beetle pass." ~ Emily Dickinson
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