Ai Weiwei. Kara Walker. Pussy Riot. Guerrilla Girls. Orwell. Art has long been an empowering outlet for speaking out against injustices. Politics aside, just the simple act of enjoying another human being’s artistic powers can make us experience our shared humanity, and change us. Art is a transcendent force.
During the Civil War, the great statesman Frederick Douglass championed the power of art in his speech “Pictures and Progress,” presenting the groundbreaking idea that pictures, not combat, would inspire Americans onto a path of justice.
Sarah Lewis, bestselling author and art historian, came into Big Think’s studio to discuss her book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery. In it, she discusses the many ways creativity brings us closer to ourselves, and why failure is an important and beneficial part of this process. Lewis told Big Think that she gets inspiration for her work from how art impacts us and can change the world.
“There’s so many examples where really aesthetic force, more than rational argument alone, has been what has shifted and turned the tide in the face of massive injustice,” she says. “So I think of the arts as far more than just a respite from life, a kind of a luxury. I see it as a galvanic force really that undergirds some of our most impactful changes and movements in this country and in this world.”
As examples, Lewis points to how the earth rise image taken by Apollo VIII helped launch the environmental movement, and how lawyer Charles Black joined the case Brown versus the Board of Education after listening to Louis Armstrong perform.
Lewis explains: “Think about the way that Brown versus the Board of Education would not have had Charles Black there, that constitutional lawyer, if he hadn’t seen Louis Armstrong perform that night in 1931 in Austin, Texas. And in that moment say to himself, well there is genius coming out of this man’s horn. And if there’s genius in this black man then segregation must be wrong.”
For more on Lewis’s insights into why art matters, watch this clip from Big Think’s interview:
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Big tech is making its opening moves into the health care scene, but its focus on tech-savvy millennials may miss the mark.
- Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have been busy investing in health care companies, developing new apps, and hiring health professionals for new business ventures.
- Their current focus appears to be on tech-savvy millennials, but the bulk of health care expenditures goes to the elderly.
- Big tech should look to integrating its most promising health care devise, the smartphone, more thoroughly into health care.
Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.
- Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
- The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
- The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
Here's why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.
- Universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality, says Rushkoff.
- Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
- Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
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