Our Hollow Society

“… If the great modern enterprise has been freedom, the modern hubris is, finally, the refusal to accept any limits. If previous societies were formed on the limitations of man’s destiny, our own suggests a definition of life which meets with no limitation whatsoever, and allows the individual, as a result, to abandon himself to himself—without any communal obligation that might regulate freedom and prevent it from becoming narrow and selfish. Our present predicament rests on whether we can find some way of balancing the desire for individual freedom with the needs of society – whether, at this point, we are able to shake ourselves free from modernist notions of uninhibited individualist innovation, which have become a sterile monotony. There is no doubt that the consequences of exaggerated individualism which disposes the individual to isolate his own interests from the mass and to leave the rest of society to look after itself are being questioned on all sides. …” – Suzi Gablick, “INDIVIDUALISM: Art for Art’s Sake, or Art Society’s Sake?”

Read this essay from the early 1980s today. Art reflects society back to itself. It seems that the path to people who care nothing about the larger impact of their “individual freedom” on the well being of others started being paved long ago. And here we are crowding the hospitals with people who refuse to be vaccinated during a pandemic, making the care of all of the rest of the ill a nightmare, even leading to their unnecessary deaths.

Ordered three books by Gablick today. Looking forward to reading them.

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