So Much Beauty in Dirt

While reading Richard Lloyd’s book Neo-Bohemia: Arts and Commerce in The Post Industrial City I was struck by a quote in the chapter entitled “Grit as Glamour” that stated, “the construction of the Wicker Park scene drew upon both local history and the accumulated mythology 3595535677_6a693b5027_zof the artist in the city as important resources. Young artists frame elements of the local landscape that many would find alarming as instead being symbolic amenities… artists are committed urbanites, and they fold the representation of neighborhood decay into their picture of authentic urbanism, even as their presence contributes to the reversal of many of its effects. In fact, the after images of decay, aestheticized in neo-noir entertainments, heroin chic fashions, or Taxi Driver posters, are imprinted on the cultural offerings produced in and through this new bohemia” (78). This quote reminds me of a Modest Mouse song, “So Much Beauty in Dirt” that examines the same idea of the artist’s ability to find the beauty in all things and their ability to make others see it too. Lloyd discusses the role of the artist in neo-bohemian communities like Wicker Park, as well as, the value we as a society place on them–a topic we’ve discussed in Senior Seminar before. The fact that an artist can assign an object, or dirt-525a place, value by deciding whether or not it is beautiful emphasizes the importance placed on creative people, and in turn the creative industry as a whole. Essentially, if the world is seen in black and white, it is the creative person who sees it in color. As the quote suggests, creative people posses the ability to dictate the latest trends, create new and palatable forms of entertainment, and re-establish the significance of an existing but neglected community. I think it is often assumed that money rules all things, but the more we discuss the role of the artist in society, the more it becomes clear to me that the creative person is the real and true all-encompassing influence. It is the creative person who determines what it is that we spend our money on. I think it’s important to question this power just as we question all other forms of authoritative controls and ask ourselves, is it possible for the creative person to posses too much influence? Are artists assigning value to things they shouldn’t be? I would argue that artists and creative people alike serve an incredibly important and crucial purpose in society. They force us to re-evaluate our preconceived notions of something and recognize the value in it for what it is. Artists have a way of grounding us and allowing us to see things through a new perspective. They allow us to see the beauty in dirt.

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