I listened to a sizzling and somewhat distressing interview with Chris Hedges, 20-year war correspondent, and author of Empire Of Illusion: The End Of Literacy And The Triumph Of Spectacle. He offers a clear view of our descent into illiteracy in favor of our fascination with the celebrity culture, pseudo-events, sensationalism, Image, image, image, reality TV, glitter and lots of screen time.
He notes our compulsion to be or do or buy something as a way to seek to live a life as a celeb, which we will never be. This creates a pernicious belief in individuals that we haven’t succeeded, because we are not yet enough. Left in moral emptiness and superficial ism, the citizenry has become consumers mired in accumulation.
He describes how we are willing to exploit everything for money, even if it means destroying the very foundation of life – destroying the biosphere and our hard won manufacturing base. It’s a dismal picture of moral emptiness and abuse. Rest assured I will listen to Chris Hedges again (YouTube) and buy his book.
Clearly, this is a man of deep wisdom and profound passion. Hedges has an important viewpoint to help us awaken from our slumber. There is a great power of images that creeps into the subconscious to create and confuse reality. Shallow media is constantly creating pseudo-events and bombarding the psyches of all those who will stay glued to the screens.
In contrast, true artists, Hedges describes, use the power of images to explore human reality and understand human consciousness to elevate the people toward their highest potential.
As a visionary artist, designer and social ecologist, I am not caught in screen time or celebrity culture. Au contraire…my family and I haven’t owned or watched TV in decades and haven’t read the newspaper in years and years. After a ‘news fast’ of nearly two years, I am back to National Public Radio some days.
For a survey of Big Island artists, last night I was asked to write 150 words on What Inspires my Work? Truth is, I am wholeheartedly dedicated to making a difference in our world. What inspires me is moving consciousness in a positive direction – awakening awareness and understanding through art. It is time for art to become powerful again, and speak in a positive, compelling way.
I am sparked by Rama, my collaborator, the remarkable Asian elephant with whom I paint. My magnum opus is RAMA: AMBASSADOR FOR THE ENDANGERED ONES, a work in progress and a clarion call for the wisdom and action to restore the Earth’s living systems and create a healthy future for all children.
May my artwork activate hope and optimism, as the future holds boundless opportunities, limited only by our imagination and beliefs. We have everything we need to restore nature and create an abundant, sustainable life for all.
In this, there is room for everyone’s talent.