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Monday, December 06, 2004

Great Art in the Netherlands

One of the great correctives to overweening ambition is that we have to work for a living. Indeed, as an ambitious writer of uncertain note of a popular website (drmezmer) and new born blog, the fact that I have 150,000 visitors a year (would my web stats report lie to me? Well, maybe), would seem to fan a white hot literary ambition, except for the fact that I, Like other unpaid pundits, have to work for living. Perhaps that's a good thing, because if I was to secure a patron who saw a mission in funding silly essays in psychology, there would be no stopping me. After all, I spend only about fifteen minutes a day writing this stuff (although admittedly a lot more time thinking about it), so a stipend would increase my output exponentially, producing a Niagara of work that would flood the literary world. So get ready for the Mezmer Encyclopedia, the Mezmer cookbook, and a miscellaneous volume on something or other to follow every third month. There is of course something wrong with this scenario, even if it was real. To note the source of my fears, let me provide an example of the Dutch, who in their misguided progressiveness led the way.

It was some years back, when the Dutch government, recognizing the affinity of great art with the Netherlander spirit and pocketbook (at least in the 16th and 17th centuries), decided to kick start inspiration by instituting a government program to buy locally produced art. So what did they get? Well, in the age of the Enlightenment, Rembrandt, Van Dyke, Vermeer, and other masters served a discerning middle class clientele who needed portraits of the family like we need digital photos of the wife and kids. Governments are not as discerning, and a blank check to produce created an avalanche of art that was, well, creatively blank. And so the Dutch found themselves with warehouse after warehouse of 'art'. Needless to say, the 'buy art' program ended soon, and the quality of inspiration reverted, and rightly so, to the efficiencies of the market.

So if yours truly continues to scribble a mere paragraph a day, understand that my output is purely a market driven thing, a matter ultimately of reader and writer spending a remainder of time and attention,as you and I have to work for a living.

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