More recent reads - Meeker - Stebbins - Rothenberg/Fine

The LeisureArts research wing has been on a tear lately. We've finished two books and last night read an interesting article. Here are the quick takes:

After Work: The Search for the Optimal Leisure Lifestyle - Robert Stebbins
We've written about Stebbins before: Robert Stebbins - Amateur - Greg Sholette This book describes what "serious leisure" is, and provides resources for pursuing it. We will devote a whole post to this material in a couple of weeks as it is of central importance to our practice.

The Comedy of Survival: Literary Ecology and a Play Ethic - Joseph W. Meeker
Billed as "the founding work in the field of literary ecology," this book's most useful material for LeisureArts involves Meeker's theorization of comedy as a way of thinking, as a "strategy for living." It dovetails nicely with much of our recent reading of pragmatism as he notes that comedy is a mode "...of acting according to the needs of the context and the tenor of the time." In all honesty, the book is mostly interesting for its historical status rather than its philosophical strength.

"Art Worlds and Their Ethnographers" - Julia Rothenberg and Gary Fine
A solid essay arguing that ethnographers of art need to be cognizant of the specificities of art world social systems. The essay provides a tidy summary of the central issues for the sociology of art. One big problem in our estimation is the incredibly limited scope of the definition of "artworlds." The authors produce, perhaps predictably, a hierarchical overview of various artworlds and presume that the same interests are driving all participants. As they state, "Artworlds are tournaments with winners an losers." [speaking of tournaments, see here and here] This implies that all of the artists in lower tiers strive to enter the so-called higher tiers. Their artworld as "reputational tournaments" conceptualization clearly excludes sunday painters, hobbyists and other types of artists who have no interest in selling their work or even exhibiting it [the above linked Sholette post deals with this "dark matter" as does this post: Gregory Sholette - Creative Dark Matter - Carlos Basualdo] . A major flaw, but just about everyone who writes about art suffers from the same myopia...