Wednesday, September 17, 2014
What the Artists Said
None of this is meant as criticism of the faculty or students at the opening. Honestly, I was impressed by the maturity of both. It’s meant as a suggestion that before we get too focused on the real or perceived “failure to launch” of a strikingly mature generation, we should probably ask some different questions.
He has a "day job" as a welder.
I'm not quite the right age to have known more than a few people who were in that demographic in 1929, but they got it. No one had to explain to them twice that a trade would be useful.
My parents were around that age when the privations of the WW II mobilization hit, disrupting the nascent recovery. (People could finally afford to buy a car or replace a stove or get new tires, but there were none to buy for another 5 years.) My dad had a trade as a backup to a professional career.
My next door neighbor growing up had fought with the 101st in Bastogne. Didn't know that at the time, but it does explain his motivation as a family man.
My parents would have loved for me to go into music but did not accept that you have to start very young at that, and have a lot of talent. They dreamed of me becoming a bohemian artist, which is what they stopped being to support kids, but it would have hurt them had I become that, since it was what they had wanted for themselves. And it was the 1970s, with inflation and recession, and it was obvious that one could not be a bohemian artist.
Going into something technical, or scientific, or the social sciences would have been crass according to the family, so I went into humanities as a compromise between what they wanted (arts) and what I did (Something Useful).
My father, however, secretly believed in having a trade as a backup to a professional career, yes. I would like to have a professional degree as a backup to my academic one.
I think people who go into academia should think about it the way the current artists do. Figure out what your second source of income will be, what kind of consulting or investment or business venture it will be, and start it early.
1. I do not want to discuss this with you, so I will just make a vague statement.
2. I am not prepared to think about careers and the current job market at all, so I am not willing to have this conversation with anyone.
...Teenage bravado: I don't remember having it or knowing anyone who had it. It was the 1970s and things were shutting down, everything was very serious, it was obvious that you were going to have to really excel in very tight markets. My parents, who had been young in the 50s, did not understand how comparatively bleak things looked for jobs and so on.
I remember getting that kind of bravado later on, in my 30s sometime, when I had sea legs as it were and more confidence than it would have been possible to have later. I don't think it is a bad time to have it and maybe these artists will get to have it then, too, if they do not have it now.
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