The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, cultural policies, and the inevitability of dogs playing poker.


File under: “Not Here, Jack.”

The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is not a government agency, but an act of collective imagination fueled by all who believe that art and culture are among our most powerful and under-tapped resources for creating a more just, equitable, and vibrant world.

Specifically …


Ed Carroll, a friend in Europe, sent me a query: “How come there was not one mayor in the USA that was prompted to submit an application to the Agenda 21 for culture? … The absence on the Map is quite extraordinary.”

My reply? “What a good question!”

“The map” is a graphic on the international award page for cities and regional and local governments that have adopted cultural policies “linking the values of culture (heritage, diversity, creativity and transmission of knowledge) with democratic governance, citizen participation and sustainable development.”

This time around, 83 cities and local governments submitted proposals. As you will see when you click on the map, not a single one came from the United States.

A discussion then broke out at Fb.

Roger A. Baylor
“Democratic governance, citizen participation and sustainable development” turn out to be such big sticking points.

Jeff Gillenwater
Yeah, but if we can just chop down a couple hundred more trees and subsidize a few more corporate boxes, it’ll all work out.

We’ll also have to take “values of culture (heritage, diversity, creativity and transmission of knowledge)” and hide them somewhere. If they ever got loose, boy — would things get uncomfortable.

I was thinking this morning, though, that our perpetual state of preferential lawlessness and economic pandering is, in many ways, not just honoring our cultural heritage but sustaining it. Was there ever a time in NA when that wasn’t the dominant paradigm or that it was seriously challenged by a member of the political class?

That’s a really good point. Just this morning I was chatting with an acquaintance, and we touched on this very phenomenon. Somewhere there’s a successor to John “Guido” Mattingly, puppeteering behind the scenes; he or she controls Dickey and Gibson and Gahan, and the system purrs along as it always has. The best and brightest leave. The council takes public pride in all being from the same high school. The only idiot is me, for thinking there is something else there, when that something never actually appears.