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Cultural Econometrics

Advocate for Art, Heritage & Culture in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

                          

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Dr. Harry Hillman Chartrand, PhD

Chief Economist

Cultural Econometrics

Cultural Economist & Publisher

Compiler Press

215 Lake Crescent

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Canada, S7H 3A1

Email

h.h.chartrand@compilerpress.ca

Tele/Fax
306-244-6945

 

 

 

 

Launched: November 25, 2009

 

Introduction

To some Cultural Econometrics will be an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.  Culture is qualitative; Econometrics is quantitative.   How does one square the circle?   Reality, of course, is much more complex than theory.  In reality Culture leaves quantitative traces in its wake.  Was the play or movie or painting good or bad is a question of quality.  How many people attended is a question of quantity as is the ticket price.   Similarly, many more plays are written and performed today than in Shakespearian London but are they better?   Complete assessment of any cultural phenomenon therefore requires both qualitative and quantitative evidence. 

Similarly to some Art, Heritage and Culture are different and distinct and not to be confused.   Art is about contemporary creation; Heritage is about conservation of past creation; and, Culture is about customs, habits, language and life ways including religion.  In reality, however, past creation or Heritage provides the standard or benchmark against which contemporary creation is generally assessed.   Thus unlike the Natural & Engineering Sciences in the Arts new knowledge does not necessarily displace old knowledge.  Shakespeare, Mozart and Da Vinci still sell today while ancient Greek physics does not.   Culture is the living fabric of society into which contemporary creation is woven while past creation is darned thereby maintained as part of our living present.  What is created and preserved is a function of Culture which, in essence, defines the values and sets the pattern of a human society.  

The mission of Cultural Econometrics is advocacy on behalf of Art, Heritage and Culture especially in the Third or non-profit Sector.  We advocate for Art as contemporary creation and Heritage as conservation of past creation all within the mutating matrix of Culture - global and of the First, Second, Third and Fourth Worlds.  In a world dominated by the financial bottom line we collect, compile and analyze both quantitative and qualitative evidence to insure that all benefits and all costs including those external to market price are accounted for in the final calculation.   Anything less may result in false economies.  Penny rich, pound poor.

The nub of the question is creation, specifically artistic creation.   Unlike 'discovery' generated by the reductionism of the Natural Sciences (the Latin root of science literally means 'to split') creation in all the Arts - literary, media, performing and visual - involves design or the bringing together of different elements into a meaningful whole.  At the extreme this results in 'beauty' defined as the comely coming together of parts.*  Thus a work of art is appreciated for what it means.  It is appreciated for what it is in-and-of-itself.  It has no utilitarian purpose. 

Physical technology also involves design (in fact the word technology literally means 'reasoned art').  Design in physical technology or engineering, however, involves the bringing together of different elements into a functioning whole.  A work of technology is appreciated for what it does, not for what it is.  It has utilitarian purpose.  It is important to note, however, that when successful both a work of art and a work of physical technology 'work'. 

Meaning, of course, is something that takes shape only inside the consciousness of a natural person, a flesh-and-blood human being.   Only a natural person can know.  Corporations and computers do not know.  Rather, respectively, it is their individual members and users or makers who know.   In this regard, contemporary neuropsychology confirms the ancient Greek metaphor of emotional intelligence - the human heart.  Every rational decision is made in one's forebrain but always paralleled by an emotional decision made in one's limbic system.  And the emotional decision is usually the determining factor.  In economics Keynes called this 'the animal spirits' of investors.  The numbers all add up but it doesn't feel right!  In terms of ways of knowing one can say that Science is of the head and Art is of the heart.  Art provides the technology of the human heart as an imaginative/sentimental/spiritual rather than physical organ

In this regard the word 'aesthetics' derives from the Greek meaning 'to gasp'.   This is the authentic aesthetic response.  One inhales the meaning of a work of Art (or of natural beauty).  It touches one's heart.   It moves one.   The movement may be profound as in the case of King Lear or pedestrian as in advertising art.  What is important is that it moves one and where the heart moves the head (and hands and pocketbook) usually follow.  Such movements thus leave quantitative traces in their wake including dollars and cents.   Movement, however, is constrained or encouraged by the dominant Culture at any given time or place.  Culture and constituent sub-cultures define which novel patterns, meanings and movements of the heart will be accepted or rejected in the Present (Art) and over Time (Heritage). 

For Art & Heritage this is the classical economic problem of 'constrained maximization'.  How to maximize subject to a constraint such as a sometimes hostile political and/or economic Culture?  This certainly was a question in the 'Culture Wars' of the 1980s and '90s and the 'Science Wars' which continued at least until the end of the 'W' Bush Administration in January 2008.  Cultural Econometrics aims to enhance the fitness of Art & Heritage to not only survive but prosper in an ever changing fitness landscape.

I invite you to explore our site to see the goods and services on offer as well as to gain a better appreciation of the unique vision of Cultural Econometrics which extends to Sister Sites listed on the left margin of our home page.  If I can be of assistance do not hesitate to call.

 

Harry Hillman Chartrand, PhD

Chief Economist

Cultural Econometrics

h.h.chartrand@compilerpress.ca

 

* Elsewhere I have noted how certain schools of modern art turn this definition of beauty on its head.  Thus 'poke-in-the-eye' art and 'egalitarian realism' deliberately demonstrate the excruciating dissonance between our idealized and the actual order of things in the real world.   In this regard the original meaning of cosmos, in Greek spelt kosmos, is the right ordering of the multiple parts of the world.  The only sense remaining in English is 'cosmetics'.