Artistic Freedom and the Path to Happiness

MusicalCherubsIf you could do anything what would you do? This question is an inter­esting thought exper­iment partic­u­larly for artists and musicians. Derek Sivers has posed it with some inter­esting commentary on his blog in the form, What if you didn’t need money or attention?

He poses this question from the perspective, if you needed nothing in your life what would you do? Through looking at two example groups he raises some common issues. Entrepreneurs and musicians both need attention and money and both can become focussed on attaining those losing their spark or purpose in the process.


For me sustaining my family has long been a reason (or excuse) to postpone making music. The uncom­fortable relationship between art and commerce is well documented. Commercial art is frowned upon and poverty is worn as a badge of pride by some and held up as a mark of failure by others.

In the West we live in a society that produces such abundance of wealth that nobody need want for anything, but we have adopted money as a method of ascribing value to people and their activ­ities. Bankers are more valuable than nurses, teachers and even artists.

Art in our society is a commodity and its value is specified by demand. This condi­tions artists to seek attention for both reward and valid­ation.

What if we were free from all this?

What would we do if our physical needs were all met? Would we all fall into Robert Anton Wilson’s predicted behaviours of recre­ational drug use and sexual gymnastics? Some of us would but I think that for those with an urge to create and commu­nicate there is a desire for something more.

Perhaps this is a need for a kind of attention but not connected to the valid­ation of wealth. It is a desire to commu­nicate something.

About Ruben Kenig

I used to play punk, then jazz. Somehow I went to music school to study composition. I wrote music and made sound design for theatre and studied film music. In the interstitial spaces of this I made websites as a content manager and project manager. I sometimes publish articles at
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