Roxanne Tellier: The Rainbow Connection

january roxanneI love the synchronicity in all life, and in my life in particular. Each day, I wake to the new thoughts and ideas that are being generated by the people I have chosen to surround myself with. That I stay positive and cheerful is no accident – the family, friends, and acquaintances I spend time with have proven themselves to be the influences that shape how I perceive the world around me.

Since the majority of the people with whom I consort are creatives, you would think there would be more whining and gnashing of teeth over our lack of material goodies. But in fact, despite our relatively low contribution to the gross national product of wherever we’ve chosen to reside, our thoughts do not revolve around the latest gadget or tech goodie.

read a bookInstead, we’re fired up about ideas and possibilities and the wonderful new concept we just read about this morning, or the night before, because for most of us, reading is as integral as breathing, whether we’re reading an actual physical book, or an article on the internet.

One person may have uncovered a quote that inspires them to write a short article, while another has seen a sunrise that filled their eyes with the colour they want to capture and try to express in paint. Someone else has heard a song by a new artist that completely encapsulates their feelings at this moment, and that spirit has reinvigorated their own joy in musical creation. While another has spent the night walking through deserted streets, camera Michelle van Looyin hand, hot on the trail of a new way to see the dirty snow as the receding tides of winter. Like this picture I found on Facebook, from Michelle van Looy.

What all of my influences have in common is that they are not tied to traditional ideas or ways of earning a living. They may have stumbled into jobs that provided enough income to pay the bills, or found a way to monetize their creativity through internet technology, but these artists are not solely focused on what they can earn – they are motivated by a burning need to bring forward the spark that lives in their minds and hearts.

You will hear those who say that it’s the artist’s job to bring his/her work to market, and that successful, well paid artists have mastered entwining commerce and art. But beyonce drunk in lovethose people are, to my  mind, more “entertainers” than “artists.” If the sole criteria of being a true artist is being handsomely paid for your efforts – well, then, I think you’re thinking of another of the oldest professions.

What’s made me think about how poorly recompensed most creatives seem to be – and here I’m talking about those who have recognized talent in any of the arts, that have never caught the ‘big break’ that propels them into society’s heightened consciousness – are two concepts that have recently been hotly debated by those I call colleagues.

One is a writing program that’s being marketed as a huge time-saver for people who write blogs.  The program takes a block of writing, whether your own or snipped from sources on the internet, and rewrites the text so that it is marginally different from its original form. So, in effect, you’ve now got a new work that essentially plagiarizes someone else’s work, but that you can call your own.

The program has been hotly debated in a Writers forum that I follow. Some have downloaded the trial and tested the program, worried that this application could put their livelihoods in jeopardy. The consensus, from those who actually make a living, no matter how paltry, from their literary efforts, is that the current technology is not yet ready to take over from those who have honed their craft over years of trial and effort. And of course, the main drawback to the program is that it can only build on what has come before. No new ideas are being generated; the program simply gobbles up text, and spits it out in a new pablum.

who owns the futureMeanwhile, I’m delving into a wonderful new book by Jaron Lanier, called “Who Owns The Future?,”  which I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone who wonders where the seismic shift in global economy will leave the actual people living on the planet.

It’s a huge read, by the man who coined the term ‘virtual reality’ when he was in the research part of the technology. He is also a musician and writer. He’s been called “the first technology figure to cross over to pop-culture stardom.” Having his feet in both camps has given him an insight into what the future may hold for us.

Lanier understands science and tech, and sees the way our attitudes toward work, as we currently define it, are changing. It’s no secret that the ‘working class’ is suffering under our current disproportionate distribution of wealth. The ‘middle class,’ those in professions like medicine and law, have not been as dramatically hit by technology, but the middle class can only maintain their status if they working class use their services.

macdonaldsWhen a business is downsized due to new tech that can do work formerly done by human staff, those displaced workers must find new employment. But the sheer number of those workers means that many are being shunted into jobs below their abilities and previous salary. Goodbye white collar, hello MacDonalds!

The service industries are actually the strongest growing sector of GDP, because it is the last bastion of human contact – well, until we get those vending machines like they have in Japan, where you can get everything from food to panties.

nanobotsTech is surging forward exponentially, and it won’t be long until even those prized careers in fields dominated by well paid professionals will be taken over by Nanobots.

But our ideas, our preferences – our creativity … now, that can’t be artificially simulated. The axis is tilting, and we are evolving into an information technology.

As society has evolved, we’ve traditionally put more emphasis on the actual, hands on, creation of items, particularly in those vast numbers of those we call ‘working class.’ What is more acceptable than the image of the hardworking man (or woman,) trudging home from the day’s slog, and bringing home a paycheck? It is the wheel on which we’ve placed our aspirations, the burning question we ask our children from youth – “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

RecessionAnd we pray that the answer won’t be “musician,” or “writer,” or “artist,” because we are engrained in the idea that the arts in general are for fools and dreamers, who will never move out of our basement. 

But what if the future actually belongs, not to those who’ve toed the line and learned a trade, but to those who’ve got the ability to not merely replicate, but to create? Suddenly, our entire economic structure is turned on it’s head. If almost every ‘job’ can be swallowed up in technological advances, what becomes precious is not obedience to our former concept of ‘work,’ but creativity, the drive to conceive what did not formerly exist.

Synchronicity … maybe Kermit was right all along, and the future will belong to “the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

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