Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

Where we are


Coming into the arts in all its manifestation at this stage of life has many facets to it. When one comes with a life time of experience, knowledge and fully developed skills, one  has a position in the field which is not the same as a beginner starting out in life. There is an adjustment required during which one finds one feet and gets one’s bearings. A large part of this is getting to know the landscape and the nature and attitudes of the people within it.

It is one thing to be admirer of the arts, even to be a spectator and follower of the arts, whether it be music, visual arts and so on. But to come into the arts area with a view to being a professional is an entirely different matter.

Any one person in such a position will have at their fingertips a wide range of interests, skills and talent, which previously have not been active or have only been trained or schooled in, akin to a Sunday painter. The attitude and output are vastly different from that same person who now wishes to be, or is, a professional.

This position that the person finds themselves in may be likened to pathfinding. Not exploring which is done only for its own sake. A pathfinder is seeking to settle but is unfamiliar with the terrority and, if people live and are active there, what their mores are and their outlook in. One might find oneself in a Renaissance court hired and supported by the Prince because he, the Prince considers this new hire to be worthy of his attention and money. In other words this Prince may act as supporter and mentor. This newbie is bemused by all that he, or she, finds around him or her in this glittering court. There seem to him to be artists, painters, sculptors, musicians of enormous talent, creating works which are hailed throughout the length and breath of the land and beyond. There is recognition and acclaim for such people. The newcomer thinks, “This is all familiar to me but in a strange way. I have been here before but it was in a dream.”

The Pathfinder knows he had a wide range of talent, skills and creative spirit, but has never had the opportunity, or maybe circumstances, to exercise these. He cannot plan or set goals for the moment because these talents and skills have never been exercised in the professional sense.

His first step then is, like a body builder flexing his muscles, to dicover the nature and extend of his talents. To try these across the length and breadth of his interests and preoccupations. In the life of a dilettante he has alway been aware of these and maybe even had encouragement and recognition of them. For example, he may have been told, “You have instinctive journalistic skills,” but due to the circumstance prevailing as he stepped out into the world such opportunities were not available at the time. The process of becoming a journalist is a long and hard one, and has to be embarked upon immediately on leaving high school or university. It is not possible, nor desirable, to start at a later point in life. He has a career already in which he has already gone through what is essentially an identical development and training. Unless you are very fortunate indeed, you do not come into journalism, let us say, as a fully fledged scientist, let’s choose that profession, as a point of reference to the topic being discussed here, unless he brings to this professional an adeptness in communicating the knowledge of his field for which there is a demand in the market place.

But there is another dimension to all this, this stepping into a new field at a later stage of life. The people skills that an already fully developed professional has gained through the school of hard knocks has to learn different skills, different ways of communicating, has to understand how interactions take place. For each field of human endeavour has its own. A judge’s might be similar to that of a lawyer where there is a continuity, even a natural progression. But were the field to be entirely different, an actor becoming a forestry manager, the interactions of foresters are going to be different from those of the acting world. This may be an improbable scenario but it serves to highlight the point. Among the many adaptations the actor will have to make is one of language for which earlier in life he may have trained for. But, as surely as the sun comes out each day and the moon at night, the language of Shakespeare is different from that of dendrology.

The artist has trained for this new field and this talented newly emerged artist already knows the language from his prior study as an amateur. He simply has to practice it.

This is where we stand.

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 10 August, 2017

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