The Icarus Deception

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”

 

The best book about art I’ve ever read is on the business shelf.

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin is a thoughtful and wide-ranging exploration of the new economy rising before us.

Out of the ashes of a century and a half of Industrialism, with its oppressive culture of control and conformity, a new economy of choice and freedom is transforming the world, sweeping aside taste makers, gatekeepers, and rigid hierarchies of all shades.  The promises of lifetime employment are gone, the entrepreneurial spirit burns bright, and mass media channels have been replaced with the kind direct connection you and I are enjoying right now.

Rather than a career as a standardized part in a corporate machine, we now have the opportunity to lead a very different kind of life, relying on a deep commitment to the craft of our profession, and building virtual communities with others who share our passions.  Godin refers to this commitment as “making art”.  Fortunately, as a painter I get to substitute “making art” for “making art” when I read his book.

The Icarus Deception is a spiritual descendant of two other books I love:  Walden, with it’s exhortation to radical individuality, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which is an extended meditation on the nature of quality.  It picks up both of those themes and weaves them into an rich and inspiring tapestry that goes far beyond what one might expect from a business text.

Like many good books, it tells me what I already know; refining and focusing what is loosely present in my mind.  Godin shares his ideas with a clarity that has helped me resolve many thoughts and approaches in my own quest to make art.

As I read it, it became clear that I actually have several arts in my life – some public, some private – and they have the potential to interact in interesting ways.  In fact, they’re about to, and the outcome may well be better art across the board.

This is an important, useful, and generous book.  For the right reader, it has the power to point to a bold way forward into our new world.

Go read it today.  You’ll probably thank me tomorrow.

 

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