Philanthropy Continued

I was going to leave this as a comment response, but I liked the bend in the conversation and I liked challenging notions of entertainment. So I want to keep the conversation going and see what you guys think.

Robynn left this comment the other day:

I’d suggest that reading purely as escapism is a form of entertainment separate from art. Absolutely this can be one of the goals of writing, and is the approach for many, (for most who want successful and wide-spread consumption of their art, I think in many cases the art needs to be in some way entertaining and escape-worthy). But I wonder about the philanthropy of that artistic side: the one that changes people, changes the world, and challenges the norms, which is a process that isn’t necessarily enjoyable, or one people want to escape into. 

This can be political or dramatic or religious. In whatever it is that’s so sufferable about this world that we want to escape from, good art, I think, should address those exact same things.

Perhaps it’s just the desire to change the world, even if that change is violent, that makes something philanthropic.

But it’s interesting that you bring your metaphor to drugs, and I want to address that too. If my writing is essentially crack, and I’m also a philanthropist by supplying your escape, could not the same be said of drug dealers? Pornographers? Exotic dancers? Action movie directors? Athletes?

Perhaps there is no easy answer, but I like to challenge everything, and this was the direction my thoughts went. Thanks for the comment Robynn, and thanks for letting me use you as a part of the conversation. Floor is yours now, guys. Discuss?


2 thoughts on “Philanthropy Continued

  1. Patrick says:

    I’ve been blogging for about 9 months now. I’m finding a new love for writing, although it doesn’t come easy for me. But I can safely say that READING (especially nonfiction) on the topics of paranormal and/or spiritual is my CRACK for sure!! And sometimes I just can’t get enough.

  2. Kelly G says:

    Reading this left me with many questions. Some of which I may not have the answer.
    According to Miriam-Webster, a philanthropist is a “person who makes an active effort to promote human welfare.” The question I have is does an artist actively make an effort to promote the welfare of humans when sharing a piece of art? I don’t think the the answer is an easy one. I think artists can promote welfare by addressing the sufferable things in the world, as you said. They can create awareness of these things through their art. But what about the artist that simply wants to share his or her viewpoint about the world or creates art as a release? Is that philanthropic? Maybe not. Like I said, I don’t think this answer is an easy one. And the drug dealers, pornographers, atheletes, (etc.)? Are they actively promoting the welfare of the people? I guess it depends on who you ask.

    You said that perhaps it’s a desire to change the world that may make something philanthropic, even if it’s a violent change. Violent how? With death and destruction? Or just a change in our way of thinking or the way we do things? Or a change for the good of the people? I think all of these can be perceived as violent in a way, especially since people are inclined to resist change. Does violence promote human welfare? Maybe if the resulting change somehow helps people? I’m not sure. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the matter though.

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