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Great essay, Alan. I appreciated your layout of the arts in comparison to the sciences and the social need for how it can communicate in ways science and empiricism never can. In terms of the arts now, I'm curious to how much of a role you think our current culture of consumption and the business of "content"/art plays in this. I wholeheartedly agree with your argument in the role arts play in society. But it seems like were at a time of oversaturation and hyper-consumption of arts, or rather "content". With the main goal of so much contemporary art/content to be profit-seeking, how can it remain in pursuit of truth telling? If revolutionary artists were around today, I can't help but cynically imagine them having an entire PR/marketing team around them to currate their art for maximum consumption/profit. As a result, their art would be sanitzied to amount to becoming essentially meaningless. Discomfort doesn't seem to hold a candle to a comforting echo-chamber in terms of clicks, views, revenue etc. Curious to your thoughts on this component here. Thanks as always for taking the time to share your engaging thoughts.

Cheers,

Dylan🍻

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Thanks Dylan, I appreciate your engagement! I think you raise a really crucial point, and one that I perhaps I should have been more explicit in distinguishing. By "the arts", I certainly was not thinking about social media or other media and the substance-free, valueless "content" that characterises our current information-sphere.

In this landscape, we have obviously shifted from a value-based and knowledge economy to an attention economy, which has completely disrupted the incentives and motivations to produce arts of real value. A good example I always think illustrates this is in cinema, where the money is in producing about 17 'Fast and Furious', in all their vapidity and banality.

In our contemporary culture, most arts with depth, nuance, and/or challenging themes, is "fringe" now. So in many respects, as I suggested in the last paragraph, this culture of sanitising and censoring the arts is a perfect representation for our culture of material vacuity.

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This is not art, it's more social engineering.

Showing the world how they wish it to be, rather than how it is, in the hope that we internalise the message and act accordingly. Watch out for the words "normalising" and "glamourising" - then you'll know being subject to something didactic.

It's infantilising of adults and adultification of kids. Look to YA lit for the most glaring examples.

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So true, but the good thing is that the power of art also lies in its subtlety, it's hard to ban everything and every form of it. It will always find its way: especially street art. And sometimes censorship might have a counterproductive effect, drawing even more attention from the wider public.

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