Why mass education is a disservice to art and literature

September 12, 2012 § 4 Comments

The beach was supposed to be a change of air, a lifting of spirits.  It very nearly was the opposite:  what struck me most about seeing so many people all at once, all of them near-naked, was how badly they were all made:  everyone, it seemed, had something seriously wrong with him:  I don’t just mean the usual city flab and sag, but serious, fundamental, congenital design flaws:  the legs too short, the torso too long, bad skin, cellulite, steatopygia, rounded shoulders, hunch, scoliosis, one arm longer than the other, eczema, an occasional extra thumb.  And faces… faces seemed to come in two categories: people who looked like they stepped out of a cartoon (literally:  if you disguised the photo as a line drawing using fancy software, anyone looking at it would declare it a malicious caricature); or at best — perfectly indifferent. I did not seen one decently made body (not beautiful, just not wrong) or one wholesome face the entire evening.

If the ubiquity of congenital flaws in our bodies is any indication of the ubiquity of congenital flaws in brain wiring, two thoughts come to mind: 1) that for most of us merely coping — merely surviving from day to day — is a struggle and — pretty much — the best we can hope for.  And 2) never mind being able to aspire to, understand, appreciate, and critique high brow art: most of us simply don’t have the wherewithal to tackle it.

How very much art and literature therefore must be elite pursuits — or risk not being what they can be!

Mass education (50% of the population attending college!?) can therefore be seen as a disservice to art and literature, putting in very many people’s heads the preposterous expectation that they can “do” art and philosophy — e.g. that they can and should have opinion/comment on Monteverdi or Cervantes — and the very false ambition to actually do these things.

Somehow the system does not convince them that they can do high energy particle physics — for which vast majority are just as qualified ( = not); but art and philosophy, yeah, we can do!  [How exactly does that work?]  But just imagine what useless pile of rubbish high energy particle physics would be if all those Joes who insist on participating in art and literature insisted on mucking about with boson theory instead?  Why can only some people contribute meaningfully to the discussion of quantum mechanics but everyone feels entitled to tell us what they think about a painting by Del Piombo?

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