I have been having disturbing thoughts about compulsive productivity in the arts and academia, and yes, I know, Marx wrote eloquently about alienation, but it bears repeating: when we become cogs in whatever machine we find ourselves, we loose our humanity – our ability to empathize, to feel joy, to surrender to unhappiness, to accept responsibility for the consequences of our actions even though we cannot control how things will turn out. And that’s the rub: I keep thinking that if we gave ourselves time to ripen, our artistic and intellectual activities would bear rich harvest, rather than simply withering away as we scramble to complete the next assignment. Dust to dust, yes, but in good time.
Specifically, I’ve been wondering about how “accountability” is measured – a book every three years (tenure track jobs) or an artwork at the end of a residency (global AIR programs), and then, I recall that the words themselves show up the economic metaphors that strangle compassionate creativity. Account-able. Measure-able. Profit-able. As if our work was to make count-able objects, rather than to create more fully human lives.