Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry?

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series The Mythology of the Modern World

Man, I love autumn. I just do, and you can’t stop me. And hand in hand with loving autumn please enjoy this myth. It comes to us from reader teckstphyle, who asks:

Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry? Why can art not be “useful?” Why can’t industry “inspire?”

More correctly, why are few cases where they overlap the exception and not the rule?

It’s a good question, and one I’m happy to answer. It also leads us to our first myth callback, because we actually touched on this, at least briefly, back on July 9, when we answered the question Why can we walk past beautiful artwork without noticing it?.

The answer, as you’ll recall, involved a union dispute.

And that brings us to today’s myth.

We know already that the daemons are the incarnate spirits of the world, of concept and drive. We know that the eudaemons are those daemons who are helpful and inspirational, who want humanity to reach farther and better. We know that the kakodaemons are the malevolent daemons, who hurt and hinder humanity for their own dark ends. And we know that the muses are those eudaemons who inspire artistic achievement. They’re not the only eudaemons (or kakodaemons, for that matter) involved in creative endeavor, but to be blunt they get the most press. We’ve heard of them. Bad poets describe seventeen year old girls they want to sleep with as “their muse.” We use them as metaphors for everything from Yoko Ono to the horse Jim Morrison shot into his veins to the prostitute Van Gogh gave a chunk of ear to. They get good press.

We also know that other spirits, embodiments, nymphs, eudaemons and kakodaemons are involved in other human endeavors, of all varieties. One of the more prominent of these daemon races was the themisii — the daemons of Good Order. To them went the rightness of Order, law, divine justice and customs. Hand in hand with this were the concepts of duty, of loyalty, and of following regulations.

Sadly, it was a themisad who came up with ISO-9001 Certification. But there is evidence she was a malevolent kakodaemon, not a helpful eudaemon.

The themisii were named for Themis, one of the oldest of Goddesses, one of the very first of the Titans and one of the few to be embraced by the Olympians who came later. Themis was one of the first wives of Zeus, and one of the few his reputedly jealous wife Hera got along with (in part because Themis represented Natural Law, bore the Fates from Zeus, and in general was bad to cross, in part because Themis was kind to Hera and helped raise her up and establish the customs that Hera would later embody, and in part because Themis’s BFF was Nemesis, the primordeal goddess of inevitable and inexorable divine retribution, and anyone who dissed Themis was in for a world of hurt no deity, mortal or anything in between could stand before.

Which is why the counterpart of the themisii are the nemesii, the daemons of fucking you over eight ways from Sunday until you actively yearned for a sweet release of death they weren’t about to give you. So, on the one hand you have Good Order, and on the other hand you have Unimaginable Pain. Everyone with me? Goooooood.

You might think that the nemesii are kakodaemons, dedicated to malevolence. But as we have stated before, almost no concept is unreservedly bad, even as almost no concept is unreservedly good. For the most part, the nemesii are hard working balancers of the divine books. Someone does something staggeringly stupid and offensive to the very firmament, and a nemesid heads out and makes him suffer, proportionately. Look, someone has to be the heavy.

But some nemesii are indeed kakodaemons. They have sworn themselves to a more malevolent path, following the dark Master of the kakodaemons far from the sight of man or civilized company, working in concert to sow chaos — a dichotomy that they manage to make work all too well. And with them, some themisii are kakodaemons, even as some muses are, and so forth. You will always have the obverse to any coin, after all.

One thing that some people have wondered, of course, is where the kakodaemons come from. After all, if they’re not actually organized by race, the way so many fantasists seem to think they should be — oh yes, all the Orcs are evil and all the Elves are good, I’m just sure that’s so despite the fact that half the Elves seem to be gigantic dicks half the time. No, there’s no such thing as a good Orc who just wants to stay home, till the blasted soil and paint nude pictures of what to him are comely Orc women. Don’t be a fool! — then there must be some kind of choice made. Some kind of transition.

And the question of the disconnect between Art and Industry is as good an excuse to tell that story as any I can think of.

Before the union dispute that caused the creation of the kharites, the separation of art from artistic appreciation, the rise of sports and reality television and the potential destruction of humanity, there were a number of areas where muses and the spirits of industry would work together. After all, just because something was going to be practical didn’t mean it couldn’t be beautiful. And just because something was inspirational and glorious didn’t mean there could be no function. One of these partnerships began when Urania Adler, muse under the original Urania and specialist in structures and sculptures, began working with Auxesia Phillips, themisad of Good Order and specialist in barn raising and other community development.

Urania Adler and Auxesia Phillips got along very well. Urania’s mind was well organized, given over to numbers and figures and ingenious kludges. Auxesia was a good engineer, of course, but she was also given to elaboration and exaltation. The two began to work on inspiring humanity to construct buildings. Practical buildings like granaries, community buildings like theaters, and even temples and other places of higher philosophical thought.

Now, Auxesia Phillips had another partner, of course. She was a themisad, which meant she had at least an informal working relationship with a nemesid. This nemesid was Adrastia Young, a beautiful young nemesid, known for being more shy than most. It was intimidating at first to be partnered with Auxesia Phillips — the blond haired, blue eyed themisad was outgoing and personable, always able to make friends in a crowd. But ‘Auxy’ made Adrastia feel welcome, and good about herself. She considered Adrastia a partner and a useful resource, instead of just calling upon her when she came across a rules violation that needed someone’s day messed up. And she called her ‘Drace,’ which honestly Adrastia thought was adorable.

It is perhaps understandable that Drace Young would develop feelings for Auxy Phillips. Certainly, after twenty years together, it’s almost certain she would.

When Auxy and Urania Adler began working together, Drace didn’t think much about it. Auxy had worked with other daemons before, and no doubt she would again. And, while the bespectacled redhaired Urania was certainly cute, most objective judges wouldn’t put her over Drace herself. Both were probably a few notches below Auxy, but that’s the nature of themisii sometimes. And besides, the work was fun.

But more and more, Drace found herself left out.

First it was just Auxy asking Drace’s opinion less. Which made sense — too many cooks and all that. Then, it was arriving to start work only to discover that Auxy and Urania were already well into the workday. More than once they were wearing the same clothes they had worn the day before, even. Drace found herself sitting to the side while the two worked more and more closely, clearly having a ball.

After a while, Drace took to taking walks. After all, there was no reason to hang around and watch Auxy and Urania making plans and inspiring mortals to both art and dedication to duty. She took to walking the fields and grounds, along the edges of the towns or cities where the muse and themisad were working.

One afternoon, she made her way down to a broad meadow. And there she met the nymph of that meadow — one of the rare leimakids, called Divia. Divia greeted her warmly and showed her the hospitality of her home, and asked the nemesid what was wrong.

“It… it’s nothing,” Drace said.

“Well, it must be something,” Divia said. “You’re certainly unhappy, and last I knew that needed a cause.” Which isn’t always the case, of course, but this was some time before the quantification of clinical depression.

And slowly, with the application of a decent amount of cheap rum, Drace opened up to the nymph. Half without understanding it herself, she outlined the wonderful life she had before Urania Adler showed up, and the ways that it had all been disrupted by the muse, and how Drace felt tossed aside and alone.

Divia frowned. “Oh, that’s so unfair,” she said. “You should do something about that.”

Drace blinked. “What can I do?” she asked.

“You’re a spirit of divine retribution. By nature, you can retribute, right?” Divia smiled.

“It’s not that simple,” Drace said. “Auxy doesn’t owe me anything. I never told her how I felt, and she never swore to cleave to me. Just because I want to break Urania Adler, throw her from the cliffs to the rocks below, and laugh as she is crushed and broken at the base forevermore doesn’t mean I can.

Divia snorted. “It should.”

Drace shrugged, helplessly. “That’s not how the rules work.”

“Then you should work inside the rules.” Divia smiled, wickedly. “You can enforce the rules and regulations, even when it disrupts the spirit of what is being done. So, you can sow contention in the work camps, among the humans. They will argue, things will get slowed down, and a wedge will form between Urania’s artistic impulse and Auxesia’s orderly impulse.”

Drace’s eyes grew wide. “I… I couldn’t do that,” she said. “That would be wrong. An abuse of the power entrusted to me.”

“But a legal abuse,” Divia pressed. “It would be simple, really.”

Drace shook her head quickly. “I couldn’t! I couldn’t. How could you even suggest such a thing?”

Divia slowly smiled. “How do you think?” she asked.

Drace’s eyes grew wide. “You’re a kakodaemon?” she asked, backing up and leaning forward, preparing to lash out. Which would be pretty one sided, as Drace was the embodiment of divine retribution and Divia, kakodaemon or not, was the nymph of a field. While both were potent in their own way, Drace had all the advantage when it came to asskicking.

Divia smiled more broadly. “Have I broken a rule, then? Do you get to attack me purely on the basis of my opinion? Why can I be struck and your little rival Urania not?”

That brought Drace up short. Divia had opened her home to Drace, and extended hospitality. Just because the leimakid was a kakodaemon, dedicated to malevolence, didn’t mean Drace could be rude. Besides, Divia hadn’t done anything yet.

“I should leave,” Drace said, after slowly relaxing her combat stance. “I apologize if I acted rudely, but I was startled.”

“I have taken no offense,” Divia said, smiling a bit. “And if you wish to leave, please feel free. But consider this — I can easily conceive of ways you could drive away this… muse and reclaim your beloved Auxesia Phillips for yourself. So the question is… do you want to continue to feel miserable, while doing nothing? Or do you want to seize control of this situation and do something?

Drace shivered, looking down. “What could I do?” she asked.

“You could come with me to a place where you could make a choice,” Divia said. “You could become like me. And you could begin to act on your own behalf, instead of always kowtowing to the needs of others.”

And Drace was tempted. She was really tempted, because she could see no way to get rid of Urania, and she knew she was actively unhappy now.

But she looked down once more and said “I can’t. Thank you, but no.”

Divia shrugged, smiling. “No problem. I’m not going anywhere. If you should change your mind, come back and see me and I’ll help you take care of it. And good luck, nemesid. Remember that you are strong, and when you are crossed your wrath is legendary.”

And Drace left, somewhat hurriedly. She was concerned over just how tempted she had been by Divia’s offer. She wanted to find Auxy and discuss it with her — and maybe even with Urania. Maybe… maybe this was the time to come clean over everything, and perhaps then something could be done.

When she arrived, there seemed to be a celebration going on. There were a few other eudaemons present, and even a favored humor or two, and of course there were Auxy and Urania.

And their arms were around each other.

Drace!” Auxy said, bounding over to the nemesid with delight. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!”

“You are?” Drace asked, her heart leaping.

Yes! You’ve been my dearest friend for so long — you had to be here!”

“For… for what?” Drace asked, her sudden heart leap being replaced by a sudden nosedive.

“Nia and I are expecting a child! We’re going to live together always!”

Drace was shocked into silence. Which Auxy took as approval. And you may be surprised too — after all, as near as can be told, Auxesia Phillips and Urania Adler are both women. However, it is always a mistake to overly ascribe human characteristics to daemons. They were very closely related, and it was certainly within their capabilities to be far more than ‘male’ or ‘female’ with one another. “Its going to be wonderful! Nia looks beautiful already, don’t you think? And soon–”

“You two are… you’re… together?” Drace asked.

“Yes. Oh, Drace, I should have talked with you about it, but it all happened in such a whirlwind and there was never a good time and besides I know that you’re not really comfortable with subjects like that so I figured I would wait until I saw where all this went — and now I have! We’re going to take leave for the term of the pregnancy and we’re going to try to conceive a second child — this one on me — so together we can–”

“That’s… that’s wonderful, Auxy,” Drace said, her face numb. “It really is. I’m…. happy for you both.”

“Drace?” Auxy asked, brow furrowed. “Are you all right?”

“I… not really. I’ve been ill. I might need to go away for a while and be treated.”

Auxy’s eyes grew wide. “Ill? And me prattling on about all this. Drace — what’s the matter? Can I help?”

Drace felt her stomach clench. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “You and Urania have a good party, all right? I’ll see you soon.”

“All right. And thank you, Drace. I’ve never been so happy.”

“I can see that,” Drace whispered.

As the sun dropped down below the trees and twilight began to spread across the land, Adrastia Young entered the domicile of the leimakid Divia once more.

“I’m in,” she said simply.

The journey was long and involved. Divia brought Adrastia to a crack in the very Earth, which they travelled down and in. They walked a very long time, descending in places, ascending in others. Drace thought she was going to one of the various Underworlds, but it became clear that this was a very different place indeed. A place of iron laden stone that looked blood red in the light. A place where chill winds blew. A place where dark figures danced to darker songs. She could hear cackling and screaming from the darkness as they finally entered the great hall, and there Adrastia saw the Master of the Kakodaemons.

How to describe this creature of shadow? Blackness and inkiness spread along his skin like separate creatures, and the angles and joints of his body did not seem to match up. His face was at once compelling and repulsive, asymmetric at best but with a magnetism that made the young nemesid shiver. His eyes seemed to glow with stardust. His fingers seems stained with blood.

“Hello, little nemesid,” he purred in the gloom. “I’m so happy to see you.”

Adrastia shivered. “I should go,” she said. “This was a mistake.”

“Of course it wasn’t a mistake,” the Master said, leaning forward, his spine bending in an alien fashion, as rectilinear and elongate as a serpent’s. “You were distressed at the muse coming in, and sliding around your beloved. Blinding her with words and pretty phrases, and distracting her from the work that needed to be done. Yes?”

Adrastia looked away, unable to face the creature. “Yes,” she said softly. “She… they’re taking nearly a year or more away from the work now. Auxy’s blinded by this… creature.

The Master leaned back, tendrils of his hair — or something, extending down to brace his head against his chair. “Mm. You’re right, of course. And it’s tragic. But that’s hardly the core of the problem, my dear.”

“It… is?”

“Of course.” The Master darted back forward, lunging as if to bite Adrastia’s head off. Despite herself she shrieked, but the Master paid it no mind. “It’s the humans, Adrastia Young.”

“The humans? What… what do they have to do with it?”

Everything. Without them, the muses would have no call to interfere with the daemons of Good Order. Without them, the daemons of the world would be free to explore and enjoy life and each other’s company, able to build a world without having to serve some primate who neither understands what we’re sacrificing for them nor has the capacity to care! Without humans, you and your themisad partner would be free to spend your days together — the way that muse has usurped her way into doing.”

Adrastia’s mind whirled. It was incredible, but of course the Master was right. Humanity demanded inspiration and industry, and of course the daemons had to hop-to and do what they demanded. It wasn’t fair — and it led to unnatural combinations. Like the combination of Art and Industry — clearly, the buildings and other engineering works Auxesia Phillips was responsible for were best served by being functional and practical. Urania’s influence just added time and money and useless fripperies, and all on behalf of the humans! Without them, Auxy could simply get her work accomplished and be done with it.

“Do you want to do something about them?” the Master purred.

“Yes,” Adrastia whispered.

“Do you swear yourself to me?”

“Yes,” Adrastia said, her voice firmer now.

“Now and forever?

Yes!” Adrastia shouted, her eyes burning now.

The Master chuckled. “I accept,” he said, and with one more lunge forward he tore open her chest and consumed her heart.

It was many weeks or months before Adrastia really recovered, of course. She had a new heart, given to her by her Master. A black thing that pumped a bile that flowed through the newly minted kakodaemon’s veins. And Adrastia began to learn things. New avenues of power, and new ways of looking at things. An animal cunning and an intellect untempered by wisdom. While up in the light Auxesia and Urania had their children. They were a new kind of daemon, called kothars — builders and craftsmen, engineers and inventors, the brilliant merging of the artistic and creative impulse with the practical and orderly impulse. The child Urania bore was called Lloyd. The child Auxesia bore was called Frank. And they were wise and and clever, and almost from birth they began to work, together and separately, to design new and exciting buildings of grace, beauty, strength and purpose.

And other Kothars followed — whether they too were the children of muses and themisii, I cannot answer, but it was clear that these productive and creative workers were well suited to the tasks set before them.

And so it was an autumn day, with the sun high and the air crisp, not far from a point in the real world where an elaborate construction was taking place — a perfect blend of the aesthetic and the utilitarian. I’m not sure what this place was — a hospital, perhaps. Or a school. Or something else entirely. It hardly matters, given what was to come. For this was the day when Adrastia Young, nemesid and partner to the themisad Auxesia Phillips, returned to her duties.

She walked now with slightly more swagger. Her clothes had more red in them, and they fit her better. She smiled more easily before, and seemed less shy. And satyrs, humans and daemons alike were drawn to her as she sauntered to where Auxesia and Urania were consulting on the proper way to inspire the humans to continue their work.

Auxy blinked. “Drace?”

Adrastia smiled languidly. “Well, you’re looking good Auxesia. Married life suits you. If that’s what this is, I mean. Hello, Urania.”

“I… thank you.” Auxy grinned, hopping up to embrace her old friend. “It’s been so long! I almost thought you weren’t coming back!”

“Oh, don’t be silly, silly.” Adrastia’s smile grew. “You can always count on me. So, what’s the current assignment? And when do I get to meet these children you were telling me about before I had to leave?”

And so the three talked, and laughed, and if anything it seemed even better than old times. Urania noticed the remarkable change in the nemesid’s attitude, but decided it wasn’t her place to speak. And Auxesia was so relieved — she had been afraid she had alienated and offended her old friend at the celebration the year before — she excused any differences in behavior out of hand. Besides, she had changed and grown so much in that year that she could hardly believe good old Drace hadn’t.

And good old Drace was all smiles and warmth, looking over the designs and plans and intentions and inspirations. And that night there was a celebration, where she met Lloyd and Frank and the other kothars. And all seemed perfectly well.

And the next morning she slid among the working humans, and she began to do her job. Only where before she sought to redress infraction and offense within the spirit of the project and intent, now she found her ammunition in the strict letter of the rules and laws. And so she began to punish those who stepped out of the bounds of proper workplace behavior — especially those who didn’t do things by the book to more easily facilitate the artistic side of the project. And workers, having the unseen and ineffable wrath of the nemesid visited upon them, were driven back, forced back on their ‘proper’ course, or even took sick or quit the project entirely.

Had Drace the eudaemon succumbed to the temptation to interfere with Urania and Auxy’s projects, she might have stopped there. But Adrastia the kakodaemon had been given a cunning, and so she went and worked her will on the other side… punishing other workers who pushed their work forward with no regard to the aesthetic demands of the position. Those who would make the structure plain and useful, with no soul or beauty. And so they too found themselves going out of their way to correct — or overly correct — their behavior, gilding the lily and losing time on the meat of the project.

And the humans involved began to quarrel. Those who had been burnt for missing regulations didn’t want to hear about the artistic concerns of those who were burnt for forgetting the beauty of the structure. Resentments began to form. Fights began to break out. More and more foremen were called to manage and contain the anger of the workers.

The muse and the themisad were at a loss to explain it. They tried to spread appropriate inspiration though the work camp, but if anything their efforts to inspire orderly behavior and artistic expression just added fuel to the fires. That night, Urania Adler sat outside the tent that she and Auxy called home there on the site.

Adrastia dropped next to her. “Hey sunshine,” she said. “Why so glum?”

“It was all going so well,” Urania said softly. “I don’t understand why things… boiled over today.”

Adrastia rested a hand on the muse’s shoulder. “Come, Urania,” she murmured. “You know Auxesia loves you. And you know she believes in this project.”

“I know.”

“I mean, you can’t blame her for being who she is, can you?”

Urania blinked, and looked up at the nemesid. “Excuse me?”

Adrastia smiled sadly. “Urania, she’s a themisad. The incarnation of Good Order. She is the perfect embodiment of punching a time clock and getting things accomplished on time and under budget. Of course on occasion that’s going to cause friction when it comes to art. I mean, art doesn’t really punch a time clock, does it?”

“Well… no, but….”

“And so it’s to be expected that sooner or later the humans she inspires will lose track of the real vision of the work. After all, to them it’s just some building. And honestly, in the end are they wrong?”

“Wh– of course they’re wrong,” Urania said, brow furrowed. “Art is more than just… just some casual frippery. Art gives meaning, and context. Art gives inspiration and hope and soul. That can’t just be cut out to make room for some arbitrary schedule!”

“Oh, come on,” Adrastia said. “You know that Auxy’s just doing her best to keep things on track. In the end, what’s more important? That the walls stay up or that they look pretty when they fall over?”

“It’s more than looking pretty,” Urania snapped.

“Okay, okay — forget I brought it up,” Adrastia said. “I’m sure you’re right and I’m sure Auxy will understand and agree.”

“She better,” Urania said. “Excuse me. I need some air.”

“You’re excused,” Adrastia said, smiling as she watched the muse leave.

“–understand why they’re fighting each other,” Auxesia said. “Honestly, Drace — you’re the spirit of retribution. Who do we need to strike down to get things moving again?”

“Well, it’s not really that simple,” Adrastia said to her old friend. “I mean, honestly this is probably to be expected. I mean, you can’t expect them to follow a plan that closely. Art demands a certain freedom of expression.”

“Freedom of expression?” Auxesia frowned. “We’re building a building, not painting a fresco. If the building collapses, the art goes with it! You have to build a foundation before you can be experimental above it!”

“Look, I’m sure that Urania will perfectly understand that the good order of the work needs to be followed before any showing off or artistic flourishes are thrown in. I mean, honestly — shouldn’t she just let you guide the project to its initial completion, and then let her artists pretty it up when we know it’s going to stand more than an hour?”

“It’s not that simple. Some of these plans are very elaborate, Adrastia.”

“Mm. I’m sure they are.”

“What does that mean?”

“Hm? Oh, nothing. Nothing at all.”

“Come on, Drace. It’s me. Tell me what you’re thinking.”

Adrastia sighed. “They’re only elaborate because she wanted you to make them more elaborate. I mean, what’s more solid? A simple, time honored design? Or some new and elaborate design that you think will stay up, if everything is just right….”

Auxesia rubbed her eyes. “This is a disaster. No wonder the humans are beginning to crack. We need to fix this. Right away.

“Of course you do. And of course Urania is going to understand and go along with this.”

“She better,” Auxesia muttered.

Needless to say, the ‘serious discussion’ the themisad and the muse had the next day quickly became a full on screaming fit. A night’s contemplation, followed by the muse coming in ready to demand a reworking of the schedule for aesthetic concerns while the themisad was ready to demand setting artistic issues completely aside until the practical work was done, led to the pair screaming and throwing pottery at each other within two hours.

Adrastia watched from a distance, only taking time to wreak yet more surgical vengeance against the humans. This in turn only made the eudaemons angrier and angrier, as it was clear what should be done to save the work, only some people couldn’t see it.

Within the week, whether the eudaemons could see a resolution or not, the humans had a resolution of their own — the city elders pulled the plug on the project, leaving only the barest elements of the initial construction standing. They stand there today, a mixture of solid supports and unimaginable beauty, but lacking purpose or even the means of determining what the structure would have been used for in he first place.

But this is not the story of the building per se. Though it was a trigger point. Because the other muses and the other themisii gathered in the wake of the disaster, and what had been an argument between partners and lovers had become a free for all between two different unions.

Divorce, such as it was, was inevitable. And was supported by the sisters of both daemons. And in the divorce, it was made clear and explicit that art was all fine and good, but industry had more pragmatic concerns, and so the two would only touch on each other when absolutely necessary.

And the muses left going in one direction, and the themisii went in the other. And Urania Adler went with her sister muses, and Auxesia Phillips went in the other.

As for Lloyd, Frank and the kothars? They didn’t understand what their parents were on about, and ultimately they decided to make their own way in the world. And so they stepped forth, the perfect builders and craftsmen, and they found themselves in demand throughout the back ways and backstage areas of the world, constructing buildings of tremendous beauty and imagination resting on solid bedrock fundamentals. And some of that leaked through to the world as we know it, leading to that most artistic of engineering disciplines, architecture, truly continuing to be the bridge between the aesthetic and the pragmatic.

Adrastia went with Auxesia, of course. “Stupid cow,” she said to Auxy. “You’re better off without her.”

“Yeah,” Auxy said, staring out the window.

“Right! What’s our next project, then?’

“There isn’t one.”

Adrastia blinked. “Excuse me?”

“There isn’t a next project. I don’t want to do this any more.”

“But… but you can’t just stop,” Adrastia said, shocked. “You’re a themisad!”

“I don’t believe in good order any more. I don’t want to do this any more. Excuse me, Drace.”

And the themisad left, to seek out the Thesmophoros, the Law Bringer, who was responsible for the arbitration of the divine and the profane, the spiritual and the banal. And when she met with the Thesmophoros, she asked to be given some other role — something where she could put her natural order to good use without having to be creative in any way. Because she had truly loved Urania Adler, and the hole left in her heart was too big to simply wish away.

And the Thesmophoros took pity, and arranged for Auxesia to be the chief of staff for the Duke of Monotony, where no creative flashes ever broke through the day to day hum drum. And so Auxesia buried herself in these new, utterly banal tasks and soothed her pains there.

And Urania too sought the Thesmophoros, because she couldn’t imagine continuing her work with so much of her soul torn out, and she too was reassigned — in her case to the logistics end of the Marquis of Rainbows, keeping the various art supplies necessary to such work always at hand and full.

And the seeds were sown for the divisions between the muses and the themisii, along with the allies of both sides lining up. These divisions would grow, and complaints would grow with them, until they came to a flashpoint that led, ultimately, to the creation of the kharites, the division of artistic appreciation from art itself, and potentially to the destruction of the human race.

And Adrastia Young found herself alone. Having successfully driven Urania and Auxesia apart, she found herself without either of them. Auxesia hardly needed a partner to maintain the routine in the Estate of Monotony, after all. Which meant that far from getting her chance to truly, truly reconnect to the woman she was convinced she loved… she would never see Auxy again.

Needless to say, as a kakodaemon of inexorable divine retribution, Adrastia visited horrific vengence upon Divia. This was to be understood — kakodaemons were well known to turn on each other at the drop of a hat. But after that was done, as with all true kakodaemons, Adrastia could not blame herself for what happened. She was not capable of that level of personal responsibility. And as she dared not blame the Master and there was no use or vengeance to be taken in blaming either Urania or Auxesia, she elected to blame the humans who after all were at the center of it all.

She still blames us, to this day. And so she flits from place to place, boardroom to boardroom, college campus to garret to symposium. And where Art and Industry threaten to enter true collaboration, she quietly and surgically finds those regulations or rules that are being bent juuuust enough to justify her retribution. And with the singlemindeness of a goat and the subtlety of a weaver, she drives collaboration into committees and finally into collapse. Art, where it’s allowed at all, is a secondary concern following the real work being done. And when art is the point, anyone who tries to merge the practical or pragmatic with it has to cope with cries of “sellout” at the best.

But through it all, there remains those few humans, muses and themisii who manage, very very quietly, to work together. And sometimes they have a kothar helping them as well. So, while we don’t live in the paradise that the merging of art and industry could have given us, with every device and structure both beautiful and practical in a perfect dance and harmony, we do sometimes see an object or an edifice that is truly inspiring and truly pragmatic, with no way to tell where the aesthetics end and the utility begins. And when we see those isolated triumphs, he murmur to ourselves “there. That is what it is supposed to be. More things should be like that.”

But don’t murmur it too loudly. Adrastia Young has sharp ears, and when she gets your scent, she never, ever gives it up. The easiest thing to do is to continue to live in a world where ‘utilitarian’ and ‘artistic’ are antonyms.

Series Navigation« Dog Reincarnation
The Princess and the Wyverns »
Liked it? Take a second to support Eric Burns-White on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

11 thoughts on “Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry?”

  1. Wow. That was hearty in length. I hope folks liked it.

    A few notes on the names.

    Urania Adler — Urania was the Muse of Astronomy and Science, and when the Muses began to multiply (as we saw in earlier myths) most of the children of the muses took the names of the originals. Adler on the other hand refers to David Adler, a prolific 20th century architect whose sister was one of the great interior decorators and often worked with him, much as Urania and Auxy worked together, for a while at least.

    Auxesia Phillips — Auxesia was the Greek Goddess of growth and prosperity and one of the first generations of Horae, the daughters of Themis who represented time. Once again, as the themisii are named for Themis, their individual names represent figures and relatives close to the original. As for Phillips — that was the surname of Mike Brady’s boss at the architectural firm on the Brady Bunch.

    Adrastia Young — Adrastia is a varient spelling of Adrasteia, ‘she who none escapes,’ the essential element of Nemesis. It was also the name of one of the nymphs who protected the infant Zeus from Cronos. She is a granter of rewards and punishments alike. One likely notices the similarity between her name and the word ‘Drastic.’ Young is the surname of Graham Frederick Young, known as the teacup murderer in real life and the lead character of the movie called The Young Poisoner’s Handbook. He killed three people, but weakened dozens of others with smaller doses. Much as Adrastia would go on to ‘poison’ the working relationships between the themisii and muses.

    Divia — short for Indivina, a varient of Invidia — the Roman goddess or concept of Envy or Jealousy.

    Frank and Lloyd — obviously, a reference to Frank Lloyd Wright, a pioneering architect of open plan buildings, which grew out of their surroundings and blended the practical requirements of the construction with the natural beauty of the area.

    Kothar — after Kothar-wa-Kahsis, the Canaanite god of engineering and invention. He is noted for building things that are both useful and beautiful, and indeed blending the two.

  2. In this case, Eric, I think we’ll willingly sacrifice brevity. 🙂

    “She smiled more easily before” – should be “than before”?

    Apropos your notes, something I’d like to see is a list of the resources you use in writing each of these – nothing so strict as a bibliography or works cited; I’m just wondering where you get your information (on, say, Canaanite gods).

  3. Oh, but I did.

    Oh, but I did.

    Chris — typically, I’ll start with Wikipedia or pantheon.org, then follow reference links to get more depth (and things I more trust). I also have a number of reference books here at the office and at home, including a gorgeous copy of The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology and the old standby Bulfinch’s Mythology. I also have any number of reference books on the evolution of the concept of things like Hell from the In Nomine pro writing days. Probably the single best Judeo-Christian reference I have, not counting the King James Version of the Bible, is Gustav Davidson’s A Dictionary of Angels.

  4. That was great.

    One of the things I like about these myths is that I can almost see an overarching plot forming in the background. Maybe that’s the nature of mythologies.

    It does give me an interesting idea for NaNoWriMo.

  5. Tephlon–A great maker of physical things having the name “Wright” is already a pun, albeit one not subtle enough to be worthy of Eric Burns. Bringing in Frank and Lloyd as muses just completes it.

  6. I think I remember running across this in my art theory class, though it was far more boring in that context. Not that art theory is boring–I think it was just because I was reading Wolterstorff. Ironically, Wolterstorff doesn’t think architecture is art.

    Good storytelling, and I don’t mind the length on this one either. It flows better than the union dispute one because it has less explaining to do.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.