Is The World Dreamer-Phobic?

This post is in a way an extension of my previous post, but also inspired by the following topic on Soul, which asks the question: Why Do We Punish Our Dreamers?

There are some interesting answers to this question in the comments and I have had a similar conversation with my sister about how society seems to be very uneasy, uncomfortable, almost downright violent and oppressive against Artists/Dreamers. It wasn’t always the case. In times like the Renaissance, art was seen as incredibly noble, government-supported, virtuous, and a symbol of humanity’s beauty and power. I’m not sure exactly when art and dreamer culture got killed in this country (maybe sometime after the 60’s) but it’s been an incredibly difficult terrain for any artist to manage since then.

I was thinking about all the different identities that I associate with and they all have at least an organization, a piece of legislation, a leader, or a historic movement that fought for the rights and privileges of that specific identity–except one.  As an artist I still feel oppressed, undervalued, scorned, dejected by modern society. There are artists organizations, I am sure, but none as powerful, with as much leverage, or with as a wide a donor base, as the NAACP, HRC, or the NCLR. One would argue that these organizations represent an underrepresented minority that has been historically repressed and exploited throughout the history of America and thus these organizations should have more power than simply an arts-based organization.

But haven’t artists been suffering a similar, albeit more silent oppression as well? John Lennon dared to dream in one of the best songs ever written (in my opinion) of a world in which there were no countries, no war, and no religion. Where everyone lived in peace and happiness, and thrived in the present moment, forgetting all past and future worries. For daring to dream that dream, he was shot.
I don’t think the phrase: “dare to dream” should be taken lightly. Dreaming is a dare. For ordinary people yes, but especially for artists. Because that IS our job. To Dream. Or, more appropriately, to Dare to Dream. What’s wiping out artists today is less of a systematic effort by the government or other group, but more of a cowardice. Cowardice on the hand of the artist to dare to dream, and a cowardice on the hand of the dreamer’s distributor, to DISTRIBUTE that very daring dream to the masses. I wouldn’t argue that the modern artist does not exist, but that she is kept silent, by non-distribution. She is there, it’s just that no one is hearing her. She’s drowned out by the much louder and the much more supported: ENTERTAINER.

Aw, the entertainer. Faux dreamer, puppet, one-line wonder, Shallow Hal, skimmer of the surface of anything real. Entertainers are shoving their feet into artists mouths, so that they can stand high. Entertainers are 10-second sprinters, they’re in it for the high, the rush, that’s gone before you know it, and leaves you feeling empty afterward. The taste of sugar lingers in your mouth–you like it, but you know it’s bad for you, it always has been, and you know that it gives you no nutrients, but you and everyone else you know will keep eating The Entertainer’s candy. Candy’s good, who would blame you for eating it?

We don’t award the artist enough, we don’t nurture the new growing dreamer enough. We choke them, we throw cynicism at them. Only the strong-willed can withstand such vicious shrapnel. The few of us, like me, who keep going even though the avalanche keeps raining down upon us. But even if we are the ones who will eventually survive, how about the ones who don’t, or won’t? Is it their fault that they weren’t “STRONG enough? That they just couldn’t hack it? Pardon my language but FRAK NO! That isn’t fair to ask an artist to go through such pain and agony to become who they are. They should just be allowed to be who they are, just like any other minority is allowed to be in this country (for the most part.)  Being strong-willed, or gutsy, should not be a requirement for being an artist. Other careers do not have such barren, treacherous terrain.

As artists our only choice is to demand more respect. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. Consider it acknowledged. Next thing to debate is: Why?

To help you ruminate on your answers you can watch this clip from a recent episode of Glee [UPDATE: Clip no longer available]. The whole episode is appropriately titled: “Dream On.” If you haven’t watched the whole episode, you should, because it addresses a similar issue, except on a high school level.

much gleek,


Why do you think the world is so Dreamer-phobic? Or do you disagree completely with me? Why don’t people support artists as much as they support sports, math, or science? Why are we seen as expendable, or unimportant?

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17 comments on “Is The World Dreamer-Phobic?

  1. Ollin, this post is excellent. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Society makes it seem dirty to nourish the soul with art of any kind. We aren’t taken seriously. When someone says “I’m a writer” they’re met with a half-serious “… what do you write?” People think of poetry as a high school phase. Painting and photography are “hobbies” not “professions.”

    All in all, very depressing point you make, but you do make it very well. Hello reality. =[ I think it’s time we take our stand.

    • ollinmorales says:

      Oh, no. I didn’t mean to be depressing. I just want to point out a very real issue, and like you said, I think it’s time for artists to take a stand. One way to do that is too keep writing! 🙂

      • Depressing but true. You’re making a point that’s going to be difficult for dreamers to recognize without a sour taste in their mouths, but it’s a point that has to be made. One thing about dreamers: we do like to create our own realities, don’t we? =] It’s good to be reminded that we’re living in the real world sometimes, and we have real issues to deal with. So, for that, I thank you for this post. I really did enjoy reading it.

    • ollinmorales says:

      Thanks, I just hope that my thoughts don’t bring anybody down, but rather call them to action.

  2. unabridgedgirl says:

    Loved this post, Ollin! I was reading, and the entire time I kept thinking about the Lady of Shalott, and the discussion I had with a professor about it representing the loss of dreams and art, even back then.

    When people as me what I am working on becoming, I sometimes stumble over the answer of, “I am going to be a writer.” I dislike the expressions. The small nods. The instant doubt.

    I dream. I beleive that I have it in me.

    Why does everyone else have to be so skeptical?

    Unless they are right, of course.

    Which brings up a whole other problem with the Fear of Dreaming.

    Wonderful post! Sorry for being long winded.

    • ollinmorales says:

      Thanks unabridged girl,

      I’m sure you do have it in you, and no they are not right. They are wrong. Oh, and you can be as long winded as you can on my blog. It’s a safe place for dreamer’s and artists, do what you want. 🙂

  3. unabridgedgirl says:

    That would be “ask me” not “as me”…

  4. Lua says:

    Great post Ollin! “That isn’t fair to ask an artist to go through such pain and agony to become who they are.” I can’t even begin to explain how important this is… The idea that an artist has to suffer twice as much is just absurd!
    I have no idea why we are so scared of dreaming! I’ve heard and witnessed parents telling their children that they are too old to dream and they should grow up, friends discouraging each other from dreaming so that supposedly they could prevent the other one from ‘getting hurt’… Whenever someone dares to dream it seems like there is an army waiting, ready to kill it.
    We’ve been told that we must behave, obey, make money, form connections and play the game by the rules or that we’ll be outsiders, punished and banned by the society. There are those who simply don’t buy this and they are brave enough to say ‘no’, they say they can dream and they can find another way… The society calls them ‘rebellious’, we call them ‘artists’…

    • ollinmorales says:

      “Whenever someone dares to dream it seems like there is an army waiting, ready to kill it.”

      Very well put Lua. We wish it was just a lone sniper and not a whole army, right? Thank you for elaborating my point so wonderfully.

  5. Right now, even I’m having certain qualms about becoming an artist, but why should I? Why do they want me to erase my dreams.

    We should get paid for being brave enough to tread the unconventional path. Damn society!

  6. Barb says:

    I’m with you, Ollin. What happened to good old patronage? Why do artists have to be underpaid because “don’t you do it for the Art?” (answer: “I do, but I also need food and shelter, damn you, can’t you pay me like you do with any other job, you moron?”)? I sure hope one day all artists will be able to express themselves without struggling. Hopefully technology can help “unknowns” to find their niche. If not, we better help each other and fight for our right to create and dream on ALL OVER THE WORLD!
    (And I’m with Lua, the rebellious outsider! Go, Artists! Yeah! :-D)

    • ollinmorales says:

      Thanks barb. It’s great to know that with you all I know that I’m not alone in my little rant. You are right we do need to help each other and form a union. The internet is a great place to start. 🙂

  7. Once again, Ollin, I love your post. Dreaming IS our job, so brilliant and hitting right at the core of things!
    Love the new blog title/look. Very clever. 🙂

  8. Thanks Miss Rosemary (now, is it? :))

    I love the new look on your blog as well!

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