The Contradictions In Our Valuation Of Art
Still thinking about how ‘worthless’ art is considered to be, and the contradictions involved in valuing it. The great majority of writers and artists can’t make a decent living off their work. So what do they do to put bread and wine on the table? They take ‘day jobs’ to support their habit. Maybe they teach writing or art. People will pay for creative writing or art classes, while they won’t pay the writers or artists for the products of their labours. Some summers I’ve taught Creative Writing, for which the students coughed up some substantial cash, but when I’ve asked them what new books they’ve been reading, it is evident they don’t spend anything approaching that amount on buying books!
It gets even more absurd in Academia. A professor of literature starts out making a very respectable salary and can increase that salary and climb up the academic pay scale by publishing ‘scholarly’ papers about writers and their work. Meanwhile, the writers they write about have to take day jobs to survive. A survey by The Writers’ Union of Canada of their members (all professional writers with commercially published books) found that more than two-thirds of them had a average annual net income from their writing of less than $5000 a year!
There is something seriously wrong with our values.