Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cross-fertlization and the Meeting of Peoples

Arlene Goldbard, author of New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, delivered a beautiful keynote speech at the annual conference of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts (Nov 3, 2006). She posted it to her blog as "Higher Ground: Community Arts as Spiritual Practice." While there is a great deal in this speech that I would like to comment upon in the future, for the moment I will content myself with a quotation:

Aniruddha Das (known as Dr. Das), who plays both bass and tabla in Asian Dub Foundation, described his philosophy of music as a meeting-place for difference:

…I had been brought up with Indian folk music and classical music and also being exposed to everything else that everybody hears. It’s kind of normal to incorporate those elements… It really isn’t fusion; it’s more like allowing different voices….I think we have to … realize that all music and all culture and language is a consequence of cross-fertilization and a meeting of peoples.

In my new book, New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, I argue that our very ideas of excellence must change to acknowledge the primacy of this truth.

I find myself thinking about these words in terms of the Mike Daisey controversy, and how it seems to apply to so many aspects of the conversation, including mine. On the one hand, the spectators who left the performance might have benefitted from viewing Daisey's performance in these terms; on the other hand, those who have condemned the spectator's "Christian fundamentalism" might also have benefitted from considering the "meeting of peoples" that requires the respect of alternate viewpoints and voices.

It is something I must consider in my own attitudes.

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