Ants and Artisans

What makes an ant valuable? What gives an action worth? And then what is the difference between the two?

The march of progress — whether it be social, technological, medical, physiological — tends to counteract the significance of the individual. The advance toward perfection requires streamlined contribution by its members. However, art is inherently individualistic, constantly at odds with the social machine.

The two notions naturally collide, like symbiotic partners. What’s the point of progress? Progress dictates that the sum of the whole be greater than the sum of its parts. Art is to the contrary. Art requires subjective interpretation, always different for each individual, let alone the creator.

My only question is: what is the point of (whatever)-ological advancement as a form of progress? Why is progress evidencing itself this way? Is it merely an assumption of ours that progress be defined as arriving at a state of higher order from a state of chaos. And yet the laws of thermodynamics dictate that higher energy states are out of equilibrium. Such questions are mostly anthropological: to discover why it is that societies move from caves to castles, from sticks to assembly lines.

But who decided such things? Is this a collective ideal? If so, it inherently goes against the grains of artistry. It begs more questions:

Can art thrive without structured normalcy of progress?
Can life be bearable in pure production without the blessed reprieve of art?

I suggest that these two warring factions are actually themselves in a state of equilibrium. Yet one is always dangerously close to overcrowding the other. For this sake, such programs as the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) make odd bedfellows, commonly working for similar, albeit opposing goals: active promotion of the arts and of business.

There are other applications for this theory, that being psychiatry. There is an axiom I call the “Ant Theory.” A thought process that describes it goes like this: “What can I possibly offer the world that 100 other people (ants) don’t already offer?” In a culture that is infatuated with highlighting individuality, all the while stressing a uniformity of style and substance, it’s no wonder that people have this fear. It’s the fear of monotony and loss of self.

All I can say is: “Thank God for art!” All work and no play, make humans dull people.

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