John Man, young musician and earnest believer in hope, courage, and beauty, says that he really has to do some practice tonight. He knows that he has that big performance coming up and he hasn’t quite nailed that really difficult part yet, so there’s a lot of work to do. But…come to think of it, society seems to have no time for musicians or artists or anyone not working a normal job, so maybe he shouldn’t even bother?
“I used to think this was my passion, and it was up to me to persevere through every obstacle,” he said. “But then I realised that one of those obstacles was apparently the entire world.”
Though he has spent years cultivating his craft and training at an elite level, Man is keenly aware that for most people, that doesn’t matter. “He should just get a job, like me,” said Joe, an employee. “I mean, I hate my job, but sometimes you have to spend your whole life doing things you hate.”
“I actually love my job,” said Jenny, a young doctor working in the public health system, “but it is becoming very difficult to do it. We literally save lives every day and yet everything is slowly getting worse and worse for us. I wish Man all the best, but sometimes I find it hard to care about his little concerts.”
Man says that he empathises with the plight of both Joe and Jenny, and he wishes that a charismatic figure like Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society had given them a rousing speech about the value of the arts when they were teenagers, just like he did for Man, through a television. “Life is about more than just law, finance, and throwing your new desk set off a bridge.” said Man. “Isn’t it?”
Bob Guy, concert promoter and Twitter chump, agrees. “That’s exactly the sort of thing we like our musicians to believe,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than a musician who has some awareness of how the world functions or what they could be getting out of it. Instead of just performing brilliantly, they start to have all these ideas about getting paid or being treated decently. It’s a nightmare.”
Man says that despite everything, he still feels like the arts are a worthwhile endeavour that should be preserved and cultivated by as many people as possible, hopefully leading to a vibrant culture in which everyone can learn something about their shared humanity from everyone else.
A nearby banker overheard these comments. “When I don’t understand what people are talking about, I just tune them out, and I go back to making extraordinary amounts of money. I love doing that.”