Meeting people where they are

 

draft….

This last week, the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Oslo. It is an event that draws a great deal and varied attention, from enthusiastic support to dislike to ridicule to mild amusement.

There are of course many ways of judging music and cultural events. We can look at craftmanship, whether it goes beyond mere craftmanship, where it fits in terms of traditions, if it breaks new ground, if it seems to come from an authentic expression, where it comes from in terms of insight and wisdom, and so on.

We can also take a more pragmatic view and look at it in terms of its function and effects. This can be especially interesting since it cuts through “high” and “low” culture, and bypasses the usual discussion of likes and dislikes.

The first question is whether it – the music, event, book, theater play etc. – is a good match for some of the audience. Does it trigger interest, fascination, like, dislike?

If yes, then in what way is it a match? What does it do for the audience? What function does it have for them? Does it meet some needs? What are the effects?

Does it trigger joy and happiness? Does it create and strengthen social bonds? Does it strengthen the in-group by creating an out-group? Does it provide a welcome escape from troubles? Does it hold up a mirror, inviting the audience to become more familiar with emotions and sides with themselves they normally shy away from? Does it offer a perspective or context that may be new to the audience?

Do these effects seem helpful or not? To decide whether it seems helpful, we’ll need a criteria. And since any criteria (luckily) is arbitrary, we are free to choose one from whatever wisdom, sanity, and kindness we can muster. Whether something seems helpful  depends entierly on how it is received,  and yet, how it is presented invites it to be received in certain ways. And independent of which criteria we use, we cannot really know if something is helpful or not, apart from how we interpret the first few ripples.

From this pragmatic view, the Eurovision Song Contest is obviously a great success. It is a match for a large number of people and a rich and varied way. It provides a brief and welcome escape. It brings joy for many. It strengthen social bonds. Whether we like it or not, Eurovision is a good projection object, so we have an opportunity to first see something out there, and then in ourselves.

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  • meeting people where they are
    • art, music, books, events etc. – it’s purpose, to meet some people where they are, a match with needs, interests, fascination, hopes/fears/dreams etc.
    • three steps
      • see whether is a match, and how
        • trigger interest, fascination, like/dislike
      • look at function, effects
        • joy, happiness
        • create/strengthen social bonds
        • welcome escape from troubles
        • holding up a mirror, invite to notice/explore sides of themselves
        • new perspective, context
      • and whether seems helpful or not
        • arbitrary criteria, so can choose from wisdom/sanity/kindness
        • all depends on how it is received, although can set the stage for it to be received a certain way
        • and cannot really know, can just have an idea of the (apparent) effect of the first few ripples

…………..

  • meeting people where they are
    • art, music, books, events etc. – it’s purpose, to meet some people where they are, a match with their interests, fascination, hopes, fears, and dreams, projections etc.
      • if a good match, then “good” art, a good event etc.
      • next step, then can look at effects, what comes out of it
      • and one step furhter, if want to go there, if seems helpful or not
    • not talked about so much, although the most obvious perspective – perhaps too obvious to talk about very much (as with so much else), still, may be helpful to explore a little further
    • eurovision song contest, one example

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This is one of those things that seems almost too obvious to talk about, but it can still be interesting to explore it a little further.

The purpose of art, music, books, events and so on is to meet some people where they are, to provide a match with their interests, fascination, their hopes, fears, and dreams, their projections, and in that way to hold up a mirror, give them an opportunity to notice, recognize, explore, and get more familiar with what is already there.

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One way to look at it is in terms of its function and effects, and this can be especially interesting since it cuts through high and low culture, and bypasses the usual discussion of likes and dislikes. It is a more pragmatic view.

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Initial draft….

A purpose of art, music, books, events and so on is to meet some people where they are, to provide a match with their interests, fascination, their hopes, fears, and dreams, their projections, and in that way to hold up a mirror, give them an opportunity to notice, recognize, explore, and get more familiar with what is already there.

If there is a good match, if it hooks fascination and trigger interest, then it has fulfilled its purpose. It is a successful painting, piece of music, event, or whatever else it may be, whether people “like” it or not.

Beyond this, we can look at its effects. What effects does it have on the audience? How do they respond? What effect does it have in their life? Does it trigger joy and happiness? Does it help create and strengthen social bonds? Does it invite to further processing, and perhaps looking at something from another angle? Does it invite the audience to get in touch with emotions and sides of themselves they normally may try to push away? Does it give people a short and welcome break from their troubles?

One step further, if we want to go there, we can ask, does it seem helpful or not? Do the effects seem helpful or not? Of course, this depends entierly on how people receice it, although art or events can set the stage for it to be received a certain way. It depends on what criteria we use and these are ultimately arbitrary, which means we are free to chose criteria from as much wisdom and kindness is here. And we cannot really know, although we can get a sense of what happens with the first few ripples.

There are of course many ways to judge art, music, books, events and so on. Is it well done in terms of craftmanship? How does it fit with the traditions? Does it break new ground? Does it seem to come from a more authentic expression? Does it go beyond mere craftmanship?

Looking at match is one of many valid perspectives, it is one tool in the toolbox. And for me, it is one that is particularly interesting since it cuts across “high” and “low” culture, and takes a more pragmatic view. Is there a good match? What are the effects on the audience? Does it seem helpful or not, using a somewhat arbitrary measure, and as far as we can tell?

Trigger: The Eurovision Song Contest held in Oslo this past weekend. It is a good example of “match” since it is liked and disliked in a rich and diverse way by many people across Europe.

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