Those who make

As Harold Bloom has pointed out, Emerson is the ancestor of all American motivational speakers and aspirational gurus. Tony Robbins and his ilk are Emerson’s progeny, and if self-reliance has become an ideology then it has to be reinvented, or understood differently. In any case, I detect a core of truth in Emerson. For example, apply this to an American economy that has shipped manufacturing overseas: “The law of nature is, Do the thing, and you shall have the power; but they who do not the thing have not the power.” The comparison will appear valid if we first apply these remarks to art. They forecast a sad end to global conceptualism, but we know that conceptualism will survive precisely because it is global—Indian and Chinese curators, designers and exhibition makers are as effective as any in the west. So in the larger economy an America that tries to specialize in finance, management, design, marketing and software, all activities peripheral to or dependent on manufacturing, will soon be powerless, because everyone else can do those things as well, if not better. The wealth, and the power derived from wealth, will accrue to those who make. Then round the thought back to its origin and observe that the dream of prosperity through positive thinking is an hysterical reaction to the real failure of an economy that has outsourced its productive capacity. Emerson is right, but the uses made of him are not.


the curators

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One Response to Those who make

  1. Martin Mugar says:

    I have been writing about the cultural malaise for some time. Here is my latest piece that was picked up by Berkshire Fine Arts. It was inspired by a facebook discussion on my review of Jed Perl’s latest collection of essays. Chris Busa of “Provincetown Arts”, and Carl Belz, former director of the Rose Museum of Art at Brandeis, participated in the discussion, among others.

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