Is the ideal public sphere fantasy…

… or art?

Yesterday I was put to the task of identifying a public sphere without constraints befitting the criteria:

1. open dialogue actively takes place
2. free from corporate market imperatives
3. free of hierarchical institution(s)
4. demographically, spatially, and temporally accessible

My initial questions are:

1. How do we get people, other than the extremists, to talk, or even care?
2. How do we raise the value of committing time to public issues above the value of money from sponsors?
3. How do we “host” rational deliberations without overarching institutions of order?
4. How do we overcome social inequities that dictate “spare” time and the capacity to articulate ideas?

Thinking we were clever, my group and I came up with the university classroom, but then the conditions poured out:

“… but the instructor would have to welcome counter opinions…”
“… but those present in a classroom of higher learning are an elite set…”

… but, … but, … but

Suddenly, art popped into my head. Art. I have had a trust that art is needed by society, but I have never been able to explain that gut feeling. I could cite many sage words, but I believe them out of faith rather than reason. The scientist in me questioned even my own pursuits of art, and suddenly, the sociology student in me feels she has an answer.

Gather any group of people in a room, and ask them to sketch, draw, paint, sculpt, in short visually represent the meaning of a social issue, and whether they are “good” artists or “bad,” everyone will be able to think about the issue, and represent it without the cumbersome articulation of words.

Art does not need every detail to convey an idea.

Art does not need to meet standards of perfection.

Art does not need moderation by experts or governments.

Art does not need corporate sponsorship.

Art is not restricted by culture, time, or space.

Huh. Would you look at that, the engineer celebrating art for it’s own sake.

Live within limits without limiting life

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About ahemmayispeak

Environmentalist Egalitarian Engineer Writer There, I finally said it. View all posts by ahemmayispeak

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