24 March 2006

Personal Virtue

Dick Cheney aside, what is the power of personal virtue?

The proposal that makes the most sense in The Weather Makers so far is a $200 per ton tax on all carbon emissions by legal persons--corporations and individuals. Enforced personal virtue.

But you know, that's not going to happen. I also realized last night that I contradicted myself. Nobody else, I know, is following this What About The Artists thread anymore, so brief recap:

Artists: The art market is icky and we are powerless.
Edward: No you're not, you're the artists. Figure out a creative solution.
Carla: Okay, artists could join a guild or a union, set up very similarly to the French-style Academy, in which your quality is rated and assured.
Fisher6000: This is an attempt at integrity from without, and can only lead to fascism. The only power I have over the art world is my own integrity.

So you'd think that I think personal integrity is very powerful. But here I do not seem to think that individual human beings can be held responsible for climate change, or for doing anything about it. In this post, I call individual attempts to reduce carbon emissions "pallative".

The art market is smaller than the earth. It has less to do with physical laws, and is less important. Maybe there are physical, spatial limits to personal responsibility.

Or maybe I need to check myself before I wreck myself. Look forward to a thrilling examination of my own environmental impact as a consumer of plastics, user of nasty chemicals, and thrower-awayer of things that I really should be handling more responsibly. Sculpture is a uniquely wasteful practice, and because my own practice is process-based, there could be a lot to learn from comparing my own practice to the living practices of eco-friendly folks all over the blogosphere who would strenuously disagree that reducing their own carbon footprint is a pallative measure.

PS: what's with no images on Blogger?????


Blogger Jeff McIntire-Strasburg said...


Thanks for the nod... I think you bring up an important point: individual efforts can only do so much. Until we address these issues at more systematic levels, individual efforts will only have minimal effects. Still, getting individuals acting means they're thinking about the issues...

26 March, 2006 14:52  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Hello Jeff!

Sustainablog rocks! Expect a link when I get time to update...

Yes, individuals can only do so much. But each individual does have a stake in the larger environment, and how can large-scale action (and sacrifice) occur when individuals are not exercising that stake, or are aware of their connection to the rest of the world?

Art is a practice, like yoga or a martial art. It is interesting that the sustainability blogs often read as practice, too. There is a sense of discipline and attention to this kind of living that seems very important right now.

My real intention is to explore why I think having one practice (sculpture) makes me exempt from this other, much more direct practice. Artists think this way all the time, and sometimes they are right to do so. Art is about broadening the realm of what is possible, and in order to dream big sometimes you've got to break some rules. There is an artist, I can't remember who right now, who is idling cars in galleries for the duration of a show. I think this is brilliant hijacking of mundane waste--it looks like such a crime when it happens in a gallery and so sensitizes the viewer to all the people idling cars on the street.

But artists do a lot of frivilous silly shit in the name of their vision, too. I think I am entering a separating-wheat-from-chaff period.

26 March, 2006 15:34  

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