There’s mighty powerful influences around. I’m halfway through a two-day trip up Highway 1, camping out at Big Sur. Quite the quintessential Californian adventure, I must say. I’m not sure if it’s the setting or something bigger, but I’m feeling all kinds of urges to start putting pen to paper and spinning some new cloths of language.
I was talking to someone about equality the other day, and she raised the point that to organize an event (in this case an art show) that mattered, one which had a vision, she would have to pick and choose works of art that worked towards that vision. This meant, I think necessarily, that the rejection–the unworthiness, the mark of inequality–was a part of the process.
I reacted badly to this. I asked her what she thought of the obligation of the healthy, the haves, the lucky, to reach out and support those who were sick, who had little, the unlucky. I wanted to know how she would reconcile excluding some who perhaps were the most in need to encouragement and support, while still striving for real ideals of humanity.
She said that I was being excessive. Where would the MOMA, the LACMA be if they took just anyone? These institutions are highly respected, highly sought-after, just because they were highly restrictive. They rejected people, excluded people, disequaled people.
So I was in a tough spot. What was I going to say? The MOMA should stop curating exhibits, I’ve uncovered some moral imperative for them to start holding open mics? I had been destroyed by a reducto ad absurdum, from a most unexpected source.
I thought further. How could disequalizing be supportable? Perhaps the MOMA, by excluding some who are not judged to be up to the standard, may gain legitimacy in some people’s minds. Perhaps it can use that legitimacy to start further high ideals? Perhaps by furthering those ideals, they can spur more people to higher achievement? What if, instead of relying on internal motivation in all cases, we can make room for external motivation, the source being specific aggregations and displays of achievement? If the price is the judgment and disequalization of some people, is that not acceptable? Rejection it hard, it can be discouraging, but if done with a certain grace, a certain regard and esteem for the person to be dismissed, it may be as encouraging (if not more so, even!) than acceptance or success.
That doesn’t sound like a major insight, more like a common understanding shared by many people.
I fear that ideas (mission statements) begin in the purest state, but over time grow into being the consciousness of a new entity (the organization), in which the idea becomes implemented through social force, control, and disequalizing, force which is only possible due to the success that that entity had had in furthering it’s idea in the world.
To an extent, this is justifiable behavior. To yet another extent, this is a healthy process for inspiring social progress. Unfortunately, therein lies an element of social control (the regulation of value), which (I think necessarily) marginalizes views and ostracizes perspectives. I think this may be the paradox at the end of our rainbow. Perhaps we should leave it at that, for now.