We have a strange situation in the world today. If our product is material — bread, cars, telephones or even creating a new hairstyle — we can always make a living and make money.
If our product is more subtle (poems, music, philosophy, dance) making money is harder. Many people think music and philosophy should be free. They might say “philosophy is priceless and invaluable!” (ovärderlig) but in practice this often means “worthless” (värdelös).
This reminds me of what is written on the gravestone of romantic poet John Keats: Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water. That´s how it is. We artists write in matter that vanishes. Very immaterial, very real, very airy…
This is the beautiful grave of Keats in Rome.
A bit of history: In the past affluent individuals with an understanding of the value of art – and the plight of the artist — often become patrons. Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Wagner are three well known composers who were helped by patrons. And Horace (Horatius) of course was supported by Maecenas, who came to personify the high-minded benefactor.
But aristocracy is not what it was, and patronage vanished at the horizon for a long time. It seems to be doing a kind of comeback now. Not through aristocrats this time but through ordinary (= poorer) folks who also understand the plight of the artist. Folks who are prepared to pay not just for bread and mobile-phones but perhaps even for poems!
I recently discovered a web site that carries on the old patronage idea. It is fittingly called Patreon and I suggest that you check it out. You might find a contemporary Keats there, maybe even make his life less bitter by supporting his “writings in air”.
Horatius (always looking for Maecenas)