The role of artists in society … “the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts”
I think about what role artists, coders, hackers, engineers have in society pretty often … and this quote in particular from Kurt Vonnegut (below) … it was on Instagram, then on kottke.org. It was part of an address to the American Physical Society published as “Physicist, Heal Thyself” in the Chicago Tribune Magazine in 1969 –
“I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”
Artist can make warning signs, engineers can build warning systems, programmers glue it all together, sensing the universe accurately, our needs in society, and often before everyone else.
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