YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=EKQns8tqM_o
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Duration:04:01
Uploaded:2020-03-03
Last sync:2020-03-03 15:45
The Case for Video Games from The Art Assignment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afjbOpnJni0
Sarah Urist Green's book You Are an Artist: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/601958/you-are-an-artist-by-sarah-urist-green/
Our tour dates will be announced 3/9 at: https://www.instagram.com/theartassignment/?hl=en

In which John in inspired by--get this--a YouTube comment to consider more carefully what he loves and looks for in art (and beyond). Thanks, 33ranjit!

Firewatch footage was captured by youtuber Marshall Dyer and the NES Tetris footage by DivCaste. For more on video games as art and source material used in that video, view The Case for Video Games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afjbOpnJni0

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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.  I am a vast paramecium of worry that swallows any nearby worry it can find so that I can become an ever-larger paramecium of worry, but I don't wanna talk about that today, I wanna talk about a really good YouTube comment.

So last week over at The Art Assignment, Sarah and Complexly producer Brandon Brungard made a brilliant video called The Case for Video Games.  It's great, you should watch it and in response, a YouTube user named 33ranjit wrote, "This video helped me put a finger on why I keep coming back to Art Assignment videos and why they move me so much.  It's a way of looking at the world and especially at what humans do and experience that does not shirk from mentioning problems and challenges but never ridicules or degrades others.  In a way, The Art Assignment videos are exercises in consciously experiencing human dignity, in others and ourselves."  

I only realized this in having it articulated for me by 33ranjit, but exercises in consciously experiencing human dignity are what I am looking for in novels and poetry and YouTube videos and philanthropy and video games and much else.  Now, I'm not always after consciously experiencing human dignity, like, when I watch videos of extremely high level Tetris playing, for instance, which I do literally every day, I am seeking a strange mix of calm and wonder, and I often look to art for distraction because sometimes I need to be distracted from the world and its worries, from navigating the complexities and vulnerabilities and uncertainties of being a person, but when I am ready to look at the world and the people I share it with, I want exercises in consciously experiencing human dignity.

I mean dignity in the sense of being worthy of respect and honor.  I really believe in acknowledging one's own human dignity and also in recognizing it in other people, especially people who have been told by the social order or by structures of power that their lives are less valuable or less central to the human experience and I love Art Assignment videos because they find so many ways of doing that, from focusing on artists who don't generally get the most critical attention to focusing on kinds of art, like say, video games that are often treated as if they aren't proper art, and so over the last six years, Sarah has shown millions and millions of people what's interesting and important about the art world but she's also shown the art world what's interesting and important about the rest of the world, and in doing so, she really has created exercises in consciously experiencing human dignity, which is a phrase I keep repeating because it's just that good.

Look, I don't labor under the delusion that our species is great or anything.  We've certainly done a lot of harm, I mean, despite being a species obsessed with the apocalypse, we seem blissfully unbothered by the fact that to many thousands of Earth species, we are the apocalypse, but I also think that humans are overwhelmingly the most interesting thing that ever happened on Earth.  It's easy to forget how wondrous you are, how strange and lovely.  I mean, through photography and art, you've seen things you'll never see, the surface of Mars, the bioluminescent fish of the deep ocean, a 17th century girl with a pearl earring, and through empathy, you've felt things you'll never feel.  Also, you're the only part of the known universe that knows it's in a universe.  

Of course, we must be better, to ourselves, to each other, to the world, but I think we become better by consciously experiencing human dignity in ourselves and others, through understanding the incalculable value of every human life, including yours.  

Thanks to 33ranjit for showing that to me and thanks to Sarah for always seeking wonder and dignity and meaning wherever she can find it.  Hank, I"ll see you on Friday.

P.S. Sarah has a book coming out in April.  It's called You Are An Artist.  It's wonderful.   It's available for pre-order now.  You should get it.  Also, Sarah and I will be touring together in support of that book.  The tour dates will be announced on March 9th on her Instagram, links in the doobly-doo below.  Okay, I think that's it, bye.  Hope I didn't go over four minutes.  It's always a worry!