Some of these, doubtless, are very busy about other sides of thought. But since such men are few, this does not account for a prevalent habit of thought that looks upon Art as at best trifling. What is wrong, then, with us or the arts, since what was once accounted so glorious, is now deemed paltry? The question is no light one; for, to put the matter in its clearest light, I will say that the leaders of modern thought do for the most part sincerely and single-mindedly hate and despise the arts; and you know well that as the leaders are, so must the people be; and that means that we who are met together here for the furthering of Art by wide-spread education are either deceiving ourselves and wasting our time, since we shall one day be of the same opinion as the best men among us, or else we represent a small minority that is right, as minorities sometimes are, while those upright men aforesaid, and the great mass of civilised men, have been blinded by untoward circumstances.
That we are of this mind--the minority that is right--is, I hope, the case. I hope we know assuredly that the arts we have met together to further are necessary to the life of man, if the progress of civilisation is not to be as causeless as the turning of a wheel that makes nothing. How, then, shall we, the minority, carry out the duty which our position thrusts upon us, of striving to grow into a majority?
If we could only explain to those thoughtful men, and the millions of whom they are the flower, what the thing is that we love, which is to us as the bread we eat, and the air we breathe, but about which they know nothing and feel nothing, save a vague instinct of repulsion, then the seed of victory might be sown. This is hard indeed to do; yet if we ponder upon a chapter of ancient or mediaeval history, it seems to me some glimmer of a chance of doing so breaks in upon us. Take for example a century of the Byzantine Empire, weary yourselves with reading the names of the pedants, tyrants, and tax-gatherers to whom the terrible chain which long- dead Rome once forged, still gave the power of cheating people into thinking that they were necessary lords of the world.
Turn then to the lands they governed, and read and forget a long string of the causeless murders of Northern and Saracen pirates and robbers. That is pretty much the sum of what so-called history has left us of the tale of those days--the stupid languor and the evil deeds of kings and scoundrels.
Must we turn away then, and say that all was evil? How then did men live from day to day? How then did Europe grow into intelligence and freedom? It seems there were others than those of whom history so called has left us the names and the deeds. These, the raw material for the treasury and the slave- market, we now call 'the people,' and we know that they were working all that while. Yes, and that their work was not merely slaves' work, the meal-trough before them and the whip behind them; for though history so called has forgotten them, yet their work has not been forgotten, but has made another history--the history of Art.
There is not an ancient city in the East or the West that does not bear some token of their grief, and joy, and hope. From Ispahan to Northumberland, there is no building built between the seventh and seventeenth centuries that does not show the influence of the labour of that oppressed and neglected herd of men.
No one of them, indeed, rose high above his fellows. There was no Plato, or Shakespeare, or Michael Angelo amongst them. Yet scattered as it was among many men, how strong their thought was, how long it abided, how far it travelled! And so it was ever through all those days when Art was so vigorous and progressive.
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Who can say how little we should know of many periods, but for their art? History so called has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; Art has remembered the people, because they created. I think, then, that this knowledge we have of the life of past times gives us some token of the way we should take in meeting those honest and single-hearted men who above all things desire the world's progress, but whose minds are, as it were, sick on this point of the arts.
New leader for men's orders sketches hopes and fears | National Catholic Reporter
Surely you may say to them: When all is gained that you and we so long for, what shall we do then? That great change which we are working for, each in his own way, will come like other changes, as a thief in the night, and will be with us before we know it; but let us imagine that its consummation has come suddenly and dramatically, acknowledged and hailed by all right- minded people; and what shall we do then, lest we begin once more to heap up fresh corruption for the woeful labour of ages once again?
I say, as we turn away from the flagstaff where the new banner has been just run up; as we depart, our ears yet ringing with the blare of the heralds' trumpets that have proclaimed the new order of things, what shall we turn to then, what MUST we turn to then? With what, then, shall we adorn it when we have become wholly free and reasonable?
The Roots of Fear
It is necessary toil, but shall it be toil only? Shall all we can do with it be to shorten the hours of that toil to the utmost, that the hours of leisure may be long beyond what men used to hope for? Shall we sleep it all away? That will be a question for all men in that day when many wrongs are righted, and when there will be no classes of degradation on whom the dirty work of the world can be shovelled; and if men's minds are still sick and loathe the arts, they will not be able to answer that question.
Once men sat under grinding tyrannies, amidst violence and fear so great, that nowadays we wonder how they lived through twenty-four hours of it, till we remember that then, as now, their daily labour was the main part of their lives, and that that daily labour was sweetened by the daily creation of Art; and shall we who are delivered from the evils they bore, live drearier days than they did?
Shall men, who have come forth from so many tyrannies, bind themselves to yet another one, and become the slaves of nature, piling day upon day of hopeless, useless toil? Must this go on worsening till it comes to this at last--that the world shall have come into its inheritance, and with all foes conquered and nought to bind it, shall choose to sit down and labour for ever amidst grim ugliness?
How, then, were all our hopes cheated, what a gulf of despair should we tumble into then? In truth, it cannot be; yet if that sickness of repulsion to the arts were to go on hopelessly, nought else would be, and the extinction of the love of beauty and imagination would prove to be the extinction of civilisation. But that sickness the world will one day throw off, yet will, I believe, pass through many pains in so doing, some of which will look very like the death-throes of Art, and some, perhaps, will be grievous enough to the poor people of the world; since hard necessity, I doubt, works many of the world's changes, rather than the purblind striving to see, which we call the foresight of man.
Meanwhile, remember that I asked just now, what was amiss in Art or in ourselves that this sickness was upon us. Nothing is wrong or can be with Art in the abstract--that must always be good for mankind, or we are all wrong together: but with Art, as we of these latter days have known it, there is much wrong; nay, what are we here for to-night if that is not so?
As to the progress made since then in this country--and in this country only, if at all--it is hard for me to speak without being either ungracious or insincere, and yet speak I must. I say, then, that an apparent external progress in some ways is obvious, but I do not know how far that is hopeful, for time must try it, and prove whether it be a passing fashion or the first token of a real stir among the great mass of civilised men.
To speak quite frankly, and as one friend to another, I must needs say that even as I say those words they seem too good to be true. And yet--who knows? May all be better than I think it! At any rate let us count our gains, and set them against less hopeful signs of the times.
In England, then--and as far as I know, in England only--painters of pictures have grown, I believe, more numerous, and certainly more conscientious in their work, and in some cases--and this more especially in England--have developed and expressed a sense of beauty which the world has not seen for the last three hundred years. This is certainly a very great gain, which is not easy to over-estimate, both for those who make the pictures and those who use them. Furthermore, in England, and in England only, there has been a great improvement in architecture and the arts that attend it--arts which it was the special province of the afore-mentioned schools to revive and foster.
This, also, is a considerable gain to the users of the works so made, but I fear a gain less important to most of those concerned in making them. Against these gains we must, I am very sorry to say, set the fact not easy to be accounted for, that the rest of the civilised world so called seems to have done little more than stand still in these matters; and that among ourselves these improvements have concerned comparatively few people, the mass of our population not being in the least touched by them; so that the great bulk of our architecture--the art which most depends on the taste of the people at large--grows worse and worse every day.
I must speak also of another piece of discouragement before I go further. I daresay many of you will remember how emphatically those who first had to do with the movement of which the foundation of our art-schools was a part, called the attention of our pattern-designers to the beautiful works of the East. This was surely most well judged of them, for they bade us look at an art at once beautiful, orderly, living in our own day, and above all, popular.
Now, it is a grievous result of the sickness of civilisation that this art is fast disappearing before the advance of western conquest and commerce--fast, and every day faster. While we are met here in Birmingham to further the spread of education in art, Englishmen in India are, in their short- sightedness, actively destroying the very sources of that education- -jewellery, metal-work, pottery, calico-printing, brocade-weaving, carpet-making--all the famous and historical arts of the great peninsula have been for long treated as matters of no importance, to be thrust aside for the advantage of any paltry scrap of so-called commerce; and matters are now speedily coming to an end there.
I daresay some of you saw the presents which the native Princes gave to the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his progress through India. I did myself, I will not say with great disappointment, for I guessed what they would be like, but with great grief, since there was scarce here and there a piece of goods among these costly gifts, things given as great treasures, which faintly upheld the ancient fame of the cradle of the industrial arts.
Nay, in some cases, it would have been laughable, if it had not been so sad, to see the piteous simplicity with which the conquered race had copied the blank vulgarity of their lords. And this deterioration we are now, as I have said, actively engaged in forwarding. I have read a little book 3 , a handbook to the Indian Court of last year's Paris Exhibition, which takes the occasion of noting the state of manufactures in India one by one.
Birdwood, the author of this book, is of great experience in Indian life, a man of science, and a lover of the arts. His story, by no means a new one to me, or others interested in the East and its labour, is a sad one indeed. The conquered races in their hopelessness are everywhere giving up the genuine practice of their own arts, which we know ourselves, as we have indeed loudly proclaimed, are founded on the truest and most natural principles.
The often-praised perfection of these arts is the blossom of many ages of labour and change, but the conquered races are casting it aside as a thing of no value, so that they may conform themselves to the inferior art, or rather the lack of art, of their conquerors. In some parts of the country the genuine arts are quite destroyed; in many others nearly so; in all they have more or less begun to sicken. So much so is this the case, that now for some time the Government has been furthering this deterioration. As for example, no doubt with the best intentions, and certainly in full sympathy with the general English public, both at home and in India, the Government is now manufacturing cheap Indian carpets in the Indian gaols.
I do not say that it is a bad thing to turn out real work, or works of art, in gaols; on the contrary, I think it good if it be properly managed. But in this case, the Government, being, as I said, in full sympathy with the English public, has determined that it will make its wares cheap, whether it make them nasty or not.
Cheap and nasty they are, I assure you; but, though they are the worst of their kind, they would not be made thus, if everything did not tend the same way. And it is the same everywhere and with all Indian manufactures, till it has come to this--that these poor people have all but lost the one distinction, the one glory that conquest had left them. Their famous wares, so praised by those who thirty years ago began to attempt the restoration of popular art amongst ourselves, are no longer to be bought at reasonable prices in the common market, but must be sought for and treasured as precious relics for the museums we have founded for our art education.
In short, their art is dead, and the commerce of modern civilisation has slain it. What is going on in India is also going on, more or less, all over the East; but I have spoken of India chiefly because I cannot help thinking that we ourselves are responsible for what is happening there. Chance-hap has made us the lords of many millions out there; surely, it behoves us to look to it, lest we give to the people whom we have made helpless scorpions for fish and stones for bread.
But since neither on this side, nor on any other, can art be amended, until the countries that lead civilisation are themselves in a healthy state about it, let us return to the consideration of its condition among ourselves. And again I say, that obvious as is that surface improvement of the arts within the last few years, I fear too much that there is something wrong about the root of the plant to exult over the bursting of its February buds.
I have just shown you for one thing that lovers of Indian and Eastern Art, including as they do the heads of our institutions for art education, and I am sure many among what are called the governing classes, are utterly powerless to stay its downward course. The general tendency of civilisation is against them, and is too strong for them. Again, though many of us love architecture dearly, and believe that it helps the healthiness both of body and soul to live among beautiful things, we of the big towns are mostly compelled to live in houses which have become a byword of contempt for their ugliness and inconvenience.
The stream of civilisation is against us, and we cannot battle against it. Once more those devoted men who have upheld the standard of truth and beauty amongst us, and whose pictures, painted amidst difficulties that none but a painter can know, show qualities of mind unsurpassed in any age--these great men have but a narrow circle that can understand their works, and are utterly unknown to the great mass of the people: civilisation is so much against them, that they cannot move the people. Therefore, looking at all this, I cannot think that all is well with the root of the tree we are cultivating.
Indeed, I believe that if other things were but to stand still in the world, this improvement before mentioned would lead to a kind of art which, in that impossible case, would be in a way stable, would perhaps stand still also. This would be an art cultivated professedly by a few, and for a few, who would consider it necessary--a duty, if they could admit duties--to despise the common herd, to hold themselves aloof from all that the world has been struggling for from the first, to guard carefully every approach to their palace of art.
It would be a pity to waste many words on the prospect of such a school of art as this, which does in a way, theoretically at least, exist at present, and has for its watchword a piece of slang that does not mean the harmless thing it seems to mean--art for art's sake. Its fore- doomed end must be, that art at last will seem too delicate a thing for even the hands of the initiated to touch; and the initiated must at last sit still and do nothing--to the grief of no one.
Well, certainly, if I thought you were come here to further such an art as this I could not have stood up and called you FRIENDS; though such a feeble folk as I have told you of one could scarce care to call foes. Yet, as I say, such men exist, and I have troubled you with speaking of them, because I know that those honest and intelligent people, who are eager for human progress, and yet lack part of the human senses, and are anti-artistic, suppose that such men are artists, and that this is what art means, and what it does for people, and that such a narrow, cowardly life is what we, fellow-handicraftsmen, aim at.
I see this taken for granted continually, even by many who, to say truth, ought to know better, and I long to put the slur from off us; to make people understand that we, least of all men, wish to widen the gulf between the classes, nay, worse still, to make new classes of elevation, and new classes of degradation--new lords and new slaves; that we, least of all men, want to cultivate the 'plant called man' in different ways--here stingily, there wastefully: I wish people to understand that the art we are striving for is a good thing which all can share, which will elevate all; in good sooth, if all people do not soon share it there will soon be none to share; if all are not elevated by it, mankind will lose the elevation it has gained.
Nor is such an art as we long for a vain dream; such an art once was in times that were worse than these, when there was less courage, kindness, and truth in the world than there is now; such an art there will be hereafter, when there will be more courage, kindness, and truth than there is now in the world. Let us look backward in history once more for a short while, and then steadily forward till my words are done: I began by saying that part of the common and necessary advice given to Art students was to study antiquity; and no doubt many of you, like me, have done so; have wandered, for instance, through the galleries of the admirable museum of South Kensington, and, like me, have been filled with wonder and gratitude at the beauty which has been born from the brain of man.
Now, consider, I pray you, what these wonderful works are, and how they were made; and indeed, it is neither in extravagance nor without due meaning that I use the word 'wonderful' in speaking of them. Well, these things are just the common household goods of those past days, and that is one reason why they are so few and so carefully treasured. They were common things in their own day, used without fear of breaking or spoiling--no rarities then--and yet we have called them 'wonderful.
And how were they made? Did a great artist draw the designs for them--a man of cultivation, highly paid, daintily fed, carefully housed, wrapped up in cotton wool, in short, when he was not at work? By no means.
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Wonderful as these works are, they were made by 'common fellows,' as the phrase goes, in the common course of their daily labour. Such were the men we honour in honouring those works. And their labour--do you think it was irksome to them? Those of you who are artists know very well that it was not; that it could not be. Many a grin of pleasure, I'll be bound--and you will not contradict me--went to the carrying through of those mazes of mysterious beauty, to the invention of those strange beasts and birds and flowers that we ourselves have chuckled over at South Kensington.
While they were at work, at least, these men were not unhappy, and I suppose they worked most days, and the most part of the day, as we do. Or those treasures of architecture that we study so carefully nowadays--what are they? There are great minsters among them, indeed, and palaces of kings and lords, but not many; and, noble and awe-inspiring as these may be, they differ only in size from the little grey church that still so often makes the commonplace English landscape beautiful, and the little grey house that still, in some parts of the country at least, makes an English village a thing apart, to be seen and pondered on by all who love romance and beauty.
These form the mass of our architectural treasures, the houses that everyday people lived in, the unregarded churches in which they worshipped.
A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears
And, once more, who was it that designed and ornamented them? The great architect, carefully kept for the purpose, and guarded from the common troubles of common men? Sometimes, perhaps, it was the monk, the ploughman's brother; oftenest his other brother, the village carpenter, smith, mason, what not--'a common fellow,' whose common everyday labour fashioned works that are to-day the wonder and despair of many a hard-working 'cultivated' architect.
And did he loathe his work? No, it is impossible. I have seen, as we most of us have, work done by such men in some out-of-the-way hamlet--where to-day even few strangers ever come, and whose people seldom go five miles from their own doors; in such places, I say, I have seen work so delicate, so careful, and so inventive, that nothing in its way could go further. And I will assert, without fear of contradiction, that no human ingenuity can produce work such as this without pleasure being a third party to the brain that conceived and the hand that fashioned it.
Nor are such works rare. The throne of the great Plantagenet, or the great Valois, was no more daintily carved than the seat of the village mass-john, or the chest of the yeoman's good-wife. So, you see, there was much going on to make life endurable in those times.
Not every day, you may be sure, was a day of slaughter and tumult, though the histories read almost as if it were so; but every day the hammer chinked on the anvil, and the chisel played about the oak beam, and never without some beauty and invention being born of it, and consequently some human happiness. The future is a scary place. According to a survey, many Americans' greatest fears —economic collapse, another world war, not having enough money for the future, etc. Although it is worth noting that their number one fear, corrupt government officials, is a clear and ever-present danger.
Americans are hardly alone. People are primed to worry over their inability to control their future environment. Tomorrow's unpredictability requires that our brains view it with suspicion, as a potential threat to our survival. Unfortunately for our survival-primed brains, technology's influence is making our future ever more protean. During the conversation, Musk shared his fears over the future of AI. Imagine a paperclip company creates an artificial superintelligence and tasks it with the single goal of making as many paperclips as possible. The company's stock soars, and humanity enters the golden age of the paperclip.
But something unexpected happens. The AI surveys the natural resources we need to survive and decides those could go a long way toward paperclip manufacturing. It consumes those resources in an effort to fulfill its prime directive, "make as many paperclips as possible," and wipes out humanity in the process.
This thought experiment, devised by Oxford professor Nick Bostrom , details just one potential danger in creating an artificial superintelligence—that being, we need to be very careful with our words. I think that's the single biggest exponential crisis that we face. Americans have steadily been losing work to automation for decades, but the trend appears to be picking up speed.
Self-driving cars, for example, could soon displace 5 million workers nationwide. But taxi drivers aren't the only people who should be worried. A McKinsey Global Institute study suggests that nearly 70 million people could lose their jobs to automation by We create robots to fight our wars for us, but they turn on their masters and bring ruin to our world. It's a classic science fiction conceit, and one we're much closer to than, say, first contact. Autonomous drones are already available , and it is only a matter of time before they make the leap from selfie-machine to combatant.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots worries about this future, but not about robotic warriors turning on their masters. Rather, the campaign believes that autonomous weapons will lead to an erosion of accountability in armed conflicts between states. As stated on the campaign's website :. The use of fully autonomous weapons would create an accountability gap as there is no clarity on who would be legally responsible for a robot's actions: the commander, programmer, manufacture, or robot itself?
Without accountability, these parties would have less incentive to ensure robots did not endanger civilians and victims would be left unsatisfied that someone was punished for the harm they experienced. Considering the difficulties already associated with prosecuting war crimes , the concern is worth consideration.
Virtual reality is here, and it looks way better than the '80s led us to believe it would. But memories of profoundly frightening experiences differ from other memories in a way that candidates can exploit. Most memories come with a date stamp, telling us when the event occurred. But when we store a terrifying memory, that mechanism fails.
As a result, when we recall the memory, the event feels recent or even as if it were happening in the present. That's good news for Giuliani. He regularly invokes September 11, telling audiences that another attack is a virtual certainty "I think probably the way I have to say it is, when we're attacked" and using vivid imagery to bring listeners back to that day.
The campaign disavowed that ploy but did not return the money. Candidates who rely on crude scare tactics may be in for a surprise, however. New research has brought a more nuanced understanding of the power of fear: it can drive voters away from the protective authority figures who seem like its logical beneficiaries. Just days before Spanish voters went to the polls in March , terrorists linked to Al Qaeda bombed four trains in Madrid, killing people. Until then, polls had shown the ruling Conservatives leading their Socialist challengers.
But when the ballots were counted, the Socialists had won, not the hard-liners who had enlisted in the U. War on Terror by sending troops to Iraq. That outcome reflected, in part, what happens when voters are reminded of the inevitability of death even by something as seemingly innocuous as passing a funeral cortege, let alone by murdered commuters. That reminder makes people "go to ground" psychologically.
That is, they become more committed to and identify more strongly with something that will endure long after they are gone. That can be an ideology, or it can be a larger entity such as one's nation, ethnicity or religion. In Spain, enough voters retreated to a Eurocentric, nationalistic world view opposing America's invasion of Iraq to tip the electoral balance. Americans got their own brutal reminder of mortality before the election, but in this case American nationalism benefited the authority figure who had most effectively positioned himself as the nation's protector.
On the Friday before voters went to the polls, however, the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera broadcast excerpts from a videotape of Osama bin Laden speaking into the camera to Americans, proudly taking responsibility for September 11 and patronizingly explaining "the best way to avoid another Manhattan. Four days later, the president won re-election. Ohio, Florida and Iowa put him over the top. Bush had another key advantage: he emphasized the greatness of the nation. That real-world observation has been replicated in lab studies.
In one experiment Greenberg and colleagues ran during the campaign, volunteers who completed a questionnaire that reminded them about their own inevitable death how thoughts of their own death made them feel and what they thought would happen to them physically after they died expressed greater support for Bush than voters of similar leanings who were not reminded of mortality.
The researchers also found that subliminal reminders of death increased support for Bush and decreased support for Kerry even among liberals. It's not clear if such responses in the lab would endure in an actual voting booth. So perhaps one should not be too cynical about the decision by the Department of Homeland Security to raise the terror-threat level on Election Day We've gone from 'vote for me or you'll end up poor' to 'vote for me or you'll end up dead'.
The effect of fear is not limited to obvious issues such as homeland security. It spills into other political judgments: fear drives voters to cling more desperately to all of their core values. For example, in one experiment volunteers who identified themselves as political conservatives were given reminders of mortality. After that prompt, they rated gay marriage, abortion and "sexual immorality" as greater threats to the nation than they had before the reminders.
By laying a foundation of fear and then raising cultural issues, the GOP in got more traction from the latter than they would have without the former. That doesn't mean that evoking voters' fears will cause them all to support, say, security measures that trample civil liberties or American exceptionalism at the expense of international diplomacy. If a voter's world view values human rights and global cooperation, then activating his amygdala will make him more supportive of those traditionally liberal views.
That response may have pushed voters into the Democrats' column in the elections despite Bush's warning that "the Democrat approach" means that "the terrorists win and America loses. The failure of brute-force scare tactics, of course, reflected the times, too: by , more voters than in were fed up with the Iraq War and terrorism alerts that had begun to sound like crying wolf.
But something more fundamental was at work. Simply put, candidates do themselves little good by reminding voters of their fears and leaving it at that, for evoking fears without also raising hopes is rarely a winning strategy. Bush was doing, and the current president offered hope when he said he would protect Americans better than John Kerry could or would. If you tear the bandage off the wound, you need to salve it.