Thursday, July 01, 2010

Snit for the Day

That shopworn dictum, "No one's irreplaceable," is only true in the worlds of business and government.

It is not true in the arts. It's likely not true in sports, science, medicine, or certain fields of technology, either, but those aren't really my immediate concern.

Poets, painters, writers, singers, actors -- especially great ones -- can't be replaced; neither, I suppose, can good ones. They can be imitated, admired, criticized, dismissed, but they can't be replaced, because they create something that (depending somewhat on technology, but not necessarily) lasts forever.

You can always find someone to push paper, run major corporations, manage hedge funds, fight wars or run the government.

A thousand CEOs and their legal staff and secretaries could perish and someone else would be doing their job the next day, probably just as well. No one but their families and friends would notice. Their customers would be over it in a nanosecond.

Calvin Coolidge famously said that the business of America is business, but in a larger sense the business world is as irrelevant as it is uninteresting.

You can't find someone else to paint the Sistine Chapel, write Hamlet or Remembrance of Things Past, compose St. Matthew's Passion, or make a film like The Rules of the Game or Tokyo Story. These things will last forever.

Businesses come and just as easily go. Skyscrapers vanish within a few generations.

Business is about today. Art is about today as well, but it's also about the future. At least, if it's any good, it is.

All anyone else gives a shit about is getting a raise or getting a promotion. When they die, their concerns will die with them.

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