Saturday soapbox

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Scott W. Prior's photo.

Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. DO it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something. Kurt Vonnegut.

14 Responses to Saturday soapbox

  1. Andrei says:

    Did you hear the one about the Englishman, The American and the Italian?

    The “independent” sports arbitrators who decided that this woman two time Olympic Gold medalist and current world record holder shouldn’t represent her Nation at Rio

  2. Paul Scott says:

    I would be surprised if alive today, Vonnegut would repeat that. He would notice that the social progressive pansy Arts departments should be closed down

  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    “social progressive pansy Arts departments should be closed down”
    Only if you want people like Donald Trump to lead the world.

    Critical thinking, understanding history and people and being a coherent communicator are actually useful skills. Chinese and Psychology may be useful courses for future trade negotiators.

    This is a useful article to read: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/employment/news/article.cfm?c_id=11&objectid=10423433

    “Sir Bob says a humanities degree in the “traditional subjects” provides a broad knowledge frame of reference and develops an inquiring mind and imagination.”

    Also:
    “I’m not so sure an arts degree is a pathway into commerce, but it is one pathway. What an arts degree gives people is the ability for critical and analytical thinking, something you do not necessarily get from a degree in something such as HR or management or something on the commercial side.

    “I don’t want to downplay those degrees that cover business, but they tend to be formulaic. You don’t learn to break material or information down, be suspicious of it and then build it up again to synthesise something out of it. These are the skills that come from arts degrees.

    Even with a first degree, a BA, you will get a grounding in a methodology such as the humanities or social sciences.

    “What you can guarantee is that a person who has a decent degree in the arts will have a fundamental understanding of one or two methodologies and all of that is transportable [into business].

    “On top of that you’ve got the sort of liberal arts education – someone who knows a bit about the world culturally – I think that’s terrific for people in life generally. But it’s a bit of a bonus for those going into the corporate world – it adds a bit of cultural breadth to them.”

  4. Andrei says:

    Oh phooey Dave Kennedy – I value learning, things like Classical Greek and Latin, History, literature, languages and so forth

    However their place in Liberal Education have been usurped by subjects that end with “studies” e.g. Gender Studies, Queer studies and so forth – post modernist crap

    I have always admired the so called “Renaissance Man”, people skilled in science, music and languages – That’s breadth

    Once upon a time to get a degree in any subject from a New Zealand University you needed a language component – you couldn’t obtain a BSc, say, without doing one of Latin, German, Greek (Classical) or French or other language

    Not sure when that was dropped 1950s or 60s maybe

  5. JC says:

    Historically you can see how classical education became a consequence of physical power, religion and nobility and its worked pretty well for us in the West in the way we’ve integrated (and prioritized) enough of these variables.

    The Asians weren’t so lucky or sensible (take your pick) or whatever it was that gave a vastly less successful result.

    However Western success has been anchored in best mastering its environment and competing ideologies and fed the arts that fed back into the power base… the question is whether we can survive the current “snowflake” generation in education, politics, civics and work against the rise of tyranny and religious extremism in the world.

    JC

  6. Andrei says:

    The Asians weren’t so lucky or sensible (take your pick) or whatever it was that gave a vastly less successful result.

    Nonsense JC – China was ahead of the West until about 400 years ago

    They gave the world things like paper and the printing press, Gunpowder and other things besides

    The West became dominant when it discovered the new world and if you are honest ruthlessly colonized it and the East as well

    The Opium wars are not the finest example of Western civilization or moral superiority, now are they

    And if you go into any engineering learning facility anywhere in the West today it is not European faces you will see studiously slaving over the mathematics of Statics and fluid dynamics…..

  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    I guess if you support the conservative Christian, patriarchal view of society where woman earn significantly less than men in female dominated jobs, such studies would be threatening. I suggest you read Marilyn Waring: http://bwb.co.nz/books/counting-for-nothing

  8. Andrei says:

    I guess if you support the conservative Christian, patriarchal view of society where woman earn significantly less than men in female dominated jobs, such studies would be threatening.

    What inane babble is this?

    I am a “conservative Christian, patriarchal” man I suppose, if that means that I spent the better part of my adult life putting my resources into raising my children and caring about their welfare and education while inculcating as best I could/can in them my values rather than those of Ms Waring

    And my foolish friend what a person earns is not a measure of their worth – this is not a metric that I ascribe much importance to

    ” For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

    The compassionate carer working in the old person’s rest home might have more real honour than the Queen Street lawyer despite the disparity in income

  9. Will says:

    I don’t agree Andrei. I believe the West was able to colonize other cultures ‘because’ of the dominance they were in the process of acquiring by themselves. China may have developed the press and other things but they did not give them to the world, or even make much use of them themselves. Governed by aristocracy and a vast, entrenched bureaucracy, they discouraged the widespread dissemination of potentially disruptive innovations.

    I find Niall Ferguson’s ‘killer apps’ argument persuasive…European decentralisation, promoting competition and trade (capitalism), empirical science, modern medicine, property rights, and the protestant work ethic. These gave the West a lead they have not quite surrendered yet.

    I do agree about the value of an appreciation for the arts, but I believe it is possible to self-educate a bit. I had to leave school early as I was needed on the farm, no opportunity for higher education, but I don’t think I’m completely ignorant.

    Struggling a bit with the Thursday quiz these days though. My acquaintance with the finer points of Byzantine politics not all it could be.

  10. Andrei says:

    Will – Western culture burst forth during the Renaissance – the agricultural revolution which gave birth to the industrial revolution a few centuries later were brilliance

    Admirable things

    But the history of humanity is the rise and fall of empires – the West has flowered over the past four centuries but that flower now appears to be wilting – what is 400 years in the scheme of things?

    I had to leave school early as I was needed on the farm, no opportunity for higher education, but I don’t think I’m completely ignorant.

    The smartest man I ever met was a Scottish Boiler maker who left school at 14, Will, and some of the dumbest were professors at University who could not see the wood for the trees

    Don’t confuse education with wisdom Will

  11. Paranormal says:

    Arguably Andrei the Renaissance was triggered by the Chinese visiting the west and sharing their technology. What allowed the west to take that technology and expand further was the rise of Protestantism, that question everything philosophy that wrought such huge advances and improvement in human existence on the planet.

    That is what has been lost with the rise of DK’s brand of leftism in education,politics and society in general. Just look at the way the left go into paroxysms when someone dares to question their new religions.

  12. JC says:

    Andre, you do the West a disfavour. Our culture springs from ancient Greece and since at least the 6th century BC that culture and history has been the equal and better of all the others that followed.

    You can take the Spherical Earth as one classic example.. the Greeks postulated it and early Christanity ran with it.. Aquinas confirmed it and even produced a pretty close calculation of its diameter. That knowledge was passed to the Muslims, Indians and eventually the Chinese in the 17th century.
    Certainly that knowledge and on other subjects was either denied or disputed at times but never lost as the anti-Catholics of the Enlightenment claimed. Also the so called Dark Ages have had to be reassessed in the light of overwhelming evidence that it was quite a productive period.

    In short Western thought and culture has been a persistent and dominant factor in the world for over 2500 years.

    JC

  13. Andrei says:

    Our culture springs from ancient Greece and since at least the 6th century BC that culture and history has been the equal and better of all the others that followed.

    Oh fie JC – Islamic culture springs from Hellenism also as does a lot of Indian culture

    Western culture and the English language are dominant now but that does not mean they always will be or that they are innately superior

    You are being parochial

    When Genghis Khan built his empire England was a barbaric backwater with the majority of its population living in wattle huts with a standard of living below that of the modern day inhabitants of Burkina Faso – even if it doesn’t look that way in Robin Hood movies

  14. JC says:

    “Oh fie JC – Islamic culture springs from Hellenism also as does a lot of Indian culture”

    That was true until the 12th century when to quote Wikipedia..

    ” Science and rationalism were dismissed in favor of revelation, and Greek philosophy was condemned as anti-Islamic.”

    Other sources tell the same story.. The Golden Age was over and Islamic decline started.

    “Western culture and the English language are dominant now but that does not mean they always will be or that they are innately superior”

    The point is clear that Hellenism aka Western culture never stopped but was driven by both Christianity and later Islam (which borrowed freely from Christians and Jews) through to the 12th century. After that it was driven by Christianity.

    Ghenhis of course had a big part to play in ending the Golden Age and, er.. I never mentioned England as carrying the flag. Thats one of the beauties of Western culture and science.. it was physically dispersed and affected less by local upheavals; Greece, Rome, Constantinople and variously France, Italy, Germany, England and USA.

    Its likely that the next iteration of Christianity and Western culture will come from Sth Korea, China and Africa.

    JC

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