The Muses Took Early Retirement

There was a time in ancient Greece when all works of art were attributed to the inspiration granted by a group of seven goddesses.  Collectively they were known as the Muses.  Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Thalia, and Urania would visit mere mortals, often while they slept; sowing the seeds of artistic and literary inspiration.  Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Chaucer all paid tribute to the Muses in their various works.

Throughout the Renaissance, artists and scribes were further encouraged through kind acts of patronage.  Kings, Popes, and wealthy families would support the efforts of musicians, artists, and writers.  In exchange for bestowing a comfortable living and encouragement for their work; artisans were expected to pay homage to their benefactors in works of art.  Yes, it might seem like “selling out” upon first blush.  But without the great patrons, artists such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Mozart, and a host of others would have been sentenced to historical obscurity.

In the modern age, the arts have been relegated to extracurricular status within our schools.  Art, music, theater, and writing become the sacrificial lambs whenever public education budgetary cutbacks are announced.  Instead, we favor putting money into science and mathematics; hoping for some massive future global economic payback for our prudent investment!  Yes, the monetary well-being of our nation is important to me as well; but have we somehow lost sight of the enrichment that the arts bring into our lives?

There was a time in history where a family’s wealth and social status was determined by the artwork that hung in their homes and the books that filled their library.  Now we throw movie posters on the wall and watch reality television rather than read.  Our children have to share textbooks in the classroom and use web-based synopses for their book reports!  They idolize musicians whose only claim to fame is the ability to rhyme curse words and the diamonds they have embedded in their teeth!

Less than one hundred years ago, the liberal arts education was treasured.  Philosophy, latin, poetry, dance, and rhetoric formed the foundation for any well-educated individual; regardless of which career path they chose.  We were taught to think independently, defend our opinions, and contribute to the knowledge of future generations.  Today our college majors are determined by average projected lifetime earnings.  We are bombarded with messages that equate our worth to the car we drive or the clothes we wear!

In an age of corporate corruption, a void of true leadership, and a lack of inspiration; can we recoup that idyllic age of knowledge and expression?  Can we put value on artistic effort?  Can we appreciate the beauty that comes from creating a masterpiece and sharing it with generations to come?  Will a new class of benefactors, be they wealthy individuals or multinational conglomerates, furnish patronage for the next great artists?

Today, while you are busy checking your mutual fund account balances and executing your online stock trades; I will be off on a slightly different type of endeavor.  It seems that my personal Muse needs to be checked out of her retirement home.  The two of us have quite a bit of work to get underway!

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About Jerry V. Dollar, Author, Humorist, Observer of the Human Condition

When not trekking around the globe, Jerry Dollar can be found in Colorado Springs, CO where he lives with his wife Robbi. Besides an affinity for writing and travel; he is also an avid bodybuilder, a very prolific reader, and an enthusiastic observer of the human condition. Jerry has published two books which are available on: Lulu, Amazon, Kindle, Nook, and IBook. "Announcing a Flight Delay" is a hilarious recap of the author's experiences as a million mile flyer. "A Dollar's Worth" is a collection of observations on the human condition, which originally appeared as blog posts. Dr. Dollar has served in various senior executive management capacities over the past 25 years. He has previously worked within the healthcare, insurance, software, and several other high technology industries. Jerry is recognized for his expertise in creating the foundations for emerging organizations to succeed in complex sales environments. He is also well known for his leadership in guiding technology companies through rapid growth phases. Jerry speaks five languages and has conducted business in over 70 countries on six continents. He holds particular expertise in the Latin American and Western European geographic areas. Dr. Dollar holds a BA in International Affairs, a BA in Spanish, an MBA in Marketing, and a PhD in Organizational Development. He has authored numerous professional articles, various training courses, and has conducted seminars and conferences around the world.
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3 Responses to The Muses Took Early Retirement

  1. Kathleen Devine says:

    I could not agree more, Jerry. By cutting back both the fine arts and practical arts, schools have doomed themselves to be only a place for those students who can master the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic and not the other subtle skills of leadership, cooperation and hands on work. Education has once again swung its pendulum far from the works of Educational Philosopher Dewey who saw that children who could print the works of other students on the printing press in the classroom or make the shoes for those who needed them had happier classrooms because the focus was on cooperation and not competition. It is very sad that the gap between the have nots according to money (something that could all be taken away) and the have is going to increase. When we should be focusing on what can we do for the people who have no homes in North Carolina, what can we do for the kids whose parents need jobs that give them more dignity and self worth is valued more.
    Education is a reflection of who is in polictical power so this is either a left over of the BUsh era or the lack of impact by the Obama administration. Sure do wonder what is next.

  2. And the world gets dumber and dumber. It isn’t just here, frankly, I might have believed that England would still advocate a classical education if I hadn’t read an argument in the Guardian in which the masses were taking shots at their ed. sec’y for suggesting that all Brits should have a capsuled course in British History. Who needs to know dead people like Dryden, responded one bloke? The Greeks believed in ‘everything in moderation’. I used to teach a college level required GE course called Intellectual and Cultural Conditions. It was a wonderful course, a Humanities Course filled with art, music, literature from the early Renaissance (although we had to have a crash course in ancient Greece with a dash of the Middle Ages to get started). First, the school decided it needed more diversity, then when they couldn’t cram enough into it, they canceled it and took such things back to departments. The , loosing the connection the arts have to one another and to our humanity. If schools still required just one semester of such a course . . oh well . . . I’m just getting started–you’re so right — – and you have an impressive background.

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