Sunday, August 10, 2014

"...with only a bare bones understanding of what it means to be alive..." PART THREE

Here's the next part of the huge discussion which broke out on facebook after my post on the liberal arts (part two here):

Timothy Ron, there are thousand of college graduates that are drowning in college debt because they got an interesting, yet unmarketable degree. One can appreciate the arts and humanities and have an engineering, business, or science degree. One can also be a student of arts and humanities without being enrolled in courses for those disciplines, or having a degree in them.

Ron Tim, I fully agree, which is why I think tuition ought to be free for all state supported universities. And, actually, this isn't pie-in-the-sky: a recent study found that if we took all federal college aid currently existing, and instead used it simply to pay tuition for everybody, we'd end up actually SAVING a few million dollars.

Otherwise, like I keep saying, studying the so-called STEM fields isn't a bad thing; quite the contrary, that's the stuff that makes society function. It's just that we have dampened so much human potential with our American cult of practicality. Further, you're definitely right in that this doesn't have to be a college thing. But then, who's going to just do this on their own? People have bills to pay, rent to make, etc.

It would be nice if we hit the humanities harder in high school.

Timothy I think you might be surprised how appreciative those not formally educated in liberal arts and fine arts really are. Plenty of people without the opportunity or impulse to seek post-secondary education explore various humanities. Some do it with the intent to make it a living. Others do it because they decide that's something they'd like to do for recreation. I have no illusions about being able to make a living singing and playing a guitar, but that didn't stop me from stepping on stage a number of times for the Open Mic Night at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown, CA. Plenty of others did, too.

BTW, if you ever get a chance to go there, some truly talented acts play there, even on the Open Mic Nights. One usually thinks of an open mic as a step above karaoke, but I've seen acts at the Ted Quinn's Reality Show at Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace get people dancing. an open mic.

For instance, my father, who earned a BS in Petroleum and Chemical Engineering from LSU in 1956 decided around 1972 that he'd like to learn pottery, so he took a pottery course at Fullerton Community College in Fullerton, CA. He did macrame, too. He didn't do it to pay the bills, and he wasn't going to quit his job at Standard Oil of California, move us all to Joshua Tree, and make and sell pots and macrame to the tourists. He did it because he thought he might enjoy it, and to my knowledge, he did.

Ron Tim, I'm in the midst of a thriving small theater scene here in Houston, where the vast majority of people involved receive no or very little pay for their work, doing it just because they love it, and creating some excellent art. Personally, I think Americans are hungry for art, literature, poetry, discussion of civics and economics, psychology, anthropology, etc., but simply don't know where to start, or have the time to do it, or even the understanding of what it is for which they hunger. But this great potential is dampened by the contradictory embrace of the cult of practicality. That is, people want a higher appreciation and understanding of American existence, but they're also a bit ashamed of their desire, and don't follow through for that reason, let alone encourage society to focus more on the humanities.

Timothy Yet we are inundated with Kardashians to fill the void. It's bad karma to wish ill to others, but I would bask in the Schadenfruede if something befell the earth opening up beneath their feet and swallowing them. How's THAT for poetic?

Ron It's good stuff. 
More tomorrow.