There was once a comedy routine that said that the word "fuck" was the most versatile word in the English language. (You can hear it here if interested)
I would like to propose that there is one word that is more fucking versatile than fuck. That word is:
This word has gone from identifying painters and sculptors to identifying EVERYTHING. Once when you claimed you were an artist people looked at you with wonder. Now the word has been so lost in the lexicon of humanity that its totally bereft of its original meaning.
You can now be a sandwich artist at Subway. A nail artist at the local boutique. An underwear artist if you make slinky nightwear. The list goes on and on.
The ridiculous way we throw around this word has on several occasions made me wreath in agony and yell at my poor computer until it shut itself down to avoid certain demise.
I mean seriously, have you ever gone into a Subway sub shop and asked the "sandwich artist" to create you something really abstract and to use only pastel colored condiments???
Once we were proud to say we were artists. Now its just become another way of saying I'm important.
In Robert Heinlein's masterpiece "Stranger in a Strange Land", when someone calls Jubal Harshaw by his formal title of "doctor" he replies:
"I don't like to be called 'Doctor'. When they began handing out doctorates for comparative folk dancing and advanced flyfishing, I became too stinkin proud to use the title. I won't touch watered whiskey and take no pride in watered down degrees"
Oh Jubal how wise you were. This is exactly the way I feel these days about being called "artist". If we are going to use the word to describe everything, then why have the word at all?
But there is a worse meaning. I run across countless news articles where the word "artist" is used negatively. Here is where the word is used properly, to denote an artisan and not a sandwich maker. But in the era of "Trump" its taken on a darker meaning, as if we are an affront to the values of the world.
To the "right" we now represent evil. We represent free and radical thinking. But perhaps that is part of what being an artist is all about. Challenging the norms, even when we are vilified for it.
So is there any way to redeem the word "artist"?
I suppose only time will tell. I'm not ready to give it up yet. But it is sad that we have so little regard for the artists of the world.
Maybe I'll think up a new word. The old word just makes me sad now.
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