Stakes and The Introductory Paragraph


There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.

We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”

In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed.                          

― Alfred Hitchcock



We want to write interesting things, and one way to do this is to build tension into our texts.

Alfred Hitchcock writes that in order to pleasure your audience with suspense (or, I would add, tension) “whenever possible the public must be informed.” I am struck by how the right information well relayed can hook our attention.

Fiction writers commonly introduce tension by:

1) Establishing stakes,

2) Complicating matters, and

3) Sharing the right information at the right time.

I believe it is possible to use information in our essays to achieve both.

Ask yourself: What information can you share that will raise the stakes or, in other words, clearly articulate a problem? What information can you share that will complicate things?

Your essay does not need do-or-die stakes to be interesting. Sometimes the stakes can be subtle, for example, in Southan’s “Is Art A Waste of Time?” the title question generates enough energy to get us thinking.

When we talk about stakes, we talk about why something matters and how much it matters. Take a few minutes, a pen, and some paper to brainstorm the stakes of your essay.

Whether or not these sentences end up in your final draft does not determine their usefulness. Every effort you put toward engaging these ideas, these texts is useful toward your end goal: in this case a well-thought, polished essay.


And the Introductory Paragraph(s)

Now that you have the stakes beneath the proverbial table, let’s turn now to the introductory paragraph as a whole. You may prefer to elaborate on what you believe to be at stake for your closing paragraph. That’s okay, the key is to have what’s at stake in mind from the very beginning–to allow the central problem, the so whatto influence your opening paragraph (or paragraphs).

What’s important is that your introduction orients your reader.

These beginning paragraphs should establish context for these stakes, a world with boundary and shape. In fact, as the writer, you should use these first moments to:

  1. acknowledge the immediate context
    1. i.e. What conversation are you entering? What are the large issues and whom do they affect? In other words, what do they say? Write 2-3 sentences describing the conversation at hand. (Make sure you have a strong handle on whom you mean when you use the word they. Please also make sure you take special care to accurately represent this they.)
  2. introduce your internal context
    1. i.e. What is your paper’s scope? What all does your paper cover, and to whom should your paper matter?
  3. set expectations
    1. i.e. What is your intent for this paper? What are you trying to prove? (It’s perfectly possible to prove the urgency of a question) What path will you choose to prove it?

As you build your scope, you will want to strive for balance. Don’t zoom too far out. For example, unless you are writing about the dawn of time, don’t start your essay: Since the dawn of time… Don’t zoom too far in, either. Don’t try to cram in too many details right away. Think about the kind of introduction you like to read.


The Exercise (To Review)

After you brainstorm, draft your introductory paragraph.

Your introductory paragraph should orient the reader, and it does this by establishing internal context.

A strong introductory paragraph checklist:

  1. Have I introduced my topic?
  2. Have I clarified my paper’s scope, and is that scope appropriate to my position?
  3. Have I indicated the stakes and or hooked my reader? (You need not detail every hypothetical dystopian future–this is an introduction. Pointing out a problem or an affected population can be enough.)
  4. Do I communicate my intent (Sometimes just knowing your intent, is enough. It will show in your writing. Ask yourself: What is the purpose–the driving direction? Where do I want to take this paper?)
  5. Does my intro paragraph have a clearly identifiable position statement? A position statement that uses clear, specific language to set an achievable course for the rest of your paper?

(Your position statement (thesis) may contain elements of all of the above! That’s okay!)

Please post your introductory paragraph as a comment below.


One Last Thing–Please don’t forget that writing–itself–is a processing tool. As you continue to draft your paper, your introduction may likely change. The purpose of your paper may shift or slide. Your scope may narrow. While drafting, you may realize a sense of urgency you previously lacked. You may stumble into a new solution. In this exercise, we generate words that will hopefully help us generate more words–which will, in turn, help us generate more words. And on and on. And onwards.


  1. vkehoe

    Many people ask the question “what is art”? Art is defined as the expression of human creativity and imagination which is typically shown through an image that is beautiful and emotional. Rhys Southan’s “Is Art a Waste of Time” explains his values on what art is and how the Effective Altruism see art. The Effective Altruism see art as something unnecessary and that takes time away from a good deed that could be done. Meanwhile on the other side, Titus Kaphar’s Ted Talk on “How Can We Address Centuries of Racism In Art?”, looks at art as something powerful and informational. Kaphar believes that we can look at historical artwork and amend them to create a positive future. Art is an indulgence that allows a person to personally connect with history or a current event to find meaning. Art is not just “a waste of time”, it is powerful.

  2. syake

    When I hear someone use the term “spice of life”, many different things come into my mind. I first think of the spice girls, then I go through all of the spices my mom kept in the spice cabinet back at home. After these ideas pass through my head I get to the real root of what the spice of life actually is, and I like to think of it as what jazzes up day to day life. An idea or action that can translate people into wanting more. For me, I personally always go back to art. Art and its place in this ever-changing world is something just so special and something easy to make connections with. There is nothing more satisfying than self expression and I could never understand how someone could be against it. In class, we read and analyzed the essay “Is it okay to make art” By Rhys Southan, and we got to choose a Ted Talk discussion to counter argue the points in his essay. For my Ted Talk, I chose “How does music transform us?” Featuring Benjamin Zander of the Boston Philharmonic. I feel like these two pieces blended together perfect for discussion purposes and for the sake of creating an interesting argument. Between his essay and the power of music, there is so much to be said.

  3. tmcpartlin

    Often times people don’t see the true beauty of art. Art comes in multiple different forms and touches every single person in some way, even if they don’t realize it. Rhys Southan poses the question “Is it OK to make art?”. My immediate thought to that was, who would even ask that question? While reading the article “Is it OK to make art?” by Rhys Southan, I quickly realized why it was a question. The Effective Altruism consider art to be a waste of time and do not see the positive outcome of it because it doesn’t always bring in the most amount of money. Although it does not bring in a steady income, it does have the ability to change people’s lives in a positive way. As Benjamin Zander says in his TED talk “How Does Music Transform Us?”, “I consider music to be a transformational experience.” Music is a form of art and can absolutely have the ability to transform an experience for the listener. After reading and listening to the thoughts of Southan, the EA’s and Zander, I strongly feel as though art is beyond important and is OK to make.

  4. cmontanile

    How does art affect you as individual in life? Why does art grab your attention when you look at it? With this idea, art has the ability of enabling the human mind to think beyond reasonable measures. It allows, humans to view things in a different perspective in life but also, to be creative. After reading Rhy Southan’s essay, “Is Art a Waste of Time,” the Effective Altruism disagreed that art had any true values. The Effective Altruism portrays art as a waste of time and money for it does not change real life issues going on in the world. As the EA’s express, “The thing you most enjoy isn’t the most moral thing to do,” even though you may love to draw and paint beautiful canvas the EA’s do not care. They care for the well being of society and whether you can make a greater impact. So then, with this my TED talk I chose to read challenges the EA’s outlook on art. “How Painting Can Transform Communities” by Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas these two men travel around the world in search to express what the true meaning of art is and how it can impact a greater community. Art, is a visual language where each painting someone creates has a meaning behind. It is important to understand that each and every canvas these men paint has a purpose, this purpose is to change the world and how societies function as a whole. Overall, I think that it is OK to make art because it helps challenge the world in thinking what really goes on in different communities but, other surrounding countries. It then helps to bring a broken community together and slowly creates this everlasting bond that is unbreakable all due to the importance of art.

    • ocigna

      I love the hook you used to draw readers in by asking personal questions about their views on art. I didn’t even think about trying a tactic like this but it really worked for your first paragraph.

    • tmcpartlin

      Overall, I really like your paragraph. I think you did a great job expressing your thoughts. In agreement with Olivia, I like the hook that you used.

  5. Rsheahan

    A controversial, unimaginable topic that strikes confusion in many “Is Art a Waste of Time”. The big concerns of writers, artists, and musicians is that many besides themselves believe that art is a waste of time. For example, in “How Does Music Transform Us?”, Conductor Benjamin Zander Discusses his opinion on arts and how they affect people, he explains that “ when you watch a sad movie it can make you cry right? But if you saw that same movie without the music, it wouldn’t have the same effect. There’s something emotive about music that pulls us in that kind of preys on our emotions.” Zanders views rightly point towards art not being a waste of time, what would our world be without art, without music, and without writing. Without being able to look around, read, and Listen you would never feel emotions. As a Conductor Zander has full control over all of his audiences emotions. Without art we have no emotions to show. Rhy Southan’s “Art is a Waste of Time” describes the effective altruism movement, his stance and The EA’s stance on art are different from Zanders beliefs. The EA sees peoples value as the amount of goodness an individual performs in the world. The EA and Zander seem to oppose each other due to there different beliefs about someone’s worth and how important art can be. It takes great effort to realize how much art can do for the world, today people of all walks of life are contemplating weather art is or is not a waste of time.

  6. pfox1

    “Art is to important not to share.” said Romero Britto a artist best know for his bright graffiti representing hope and happiness. Although, in a ever struggling world with millions of people in need does art still serve a purpose? Rhy Southan discusses art and its purpose with an organization of people know as Effective Altruism in his essay “Is it OK to make art?”. Effective Altruist or EA’s believe one should do as much as they can and exhaust all resources to help others. To EA’s art is not an effect way to reduce the worlds suffering contrary to the belief of Dre Urhahns and Jeroen Koolhaas artist from the ted talk How Can Public Art Projects Transform Rough Neighborhoods. Urhahns and Koolhaas brought together communities to paint murals across homes. EA’s do not see projects like such as useful ways to reduce world suffering compared to donating money and being hands on to help people even if that means giving up on your dream. Art comes in many shapes ways and forms, everyday life in all trades not just paintings, music and entertainment. The impact of art may not be direct and always visible but its significance in the betterment of our world and bring people together is immeasurable.

  7. Mary Kate

    What is culture? One would say the activities, thoughts, and the mindset of groups of people, but art is invariably part of that. Art is, to some extent, part of and responsible for whatever culture we live in. To study ancient civilizations, historians study the art they created. If art affects the culture, the prejudices of that art inevitably transfer onto the culture that’s exposed to it. If art is created to perpetuate prejudices, doesn’t it follow that art can be created to destroy them? And, if art isn’t created to oppose these views, can they be destroyed at all?

    • ocigna

      I like this view of art you expressed. But, consider making a clearer thesis and stating your personal views more directly.

  8. jlynch12

    Art is interpreted in different ways by based on the mindset and experiences of different people. Southan explains the interpretations of the effective altruism group which differ from the interpretations that the composer, Zander, expresses in his Ted Talk. The EA group says that “Artists paint the beautiful landscapes in front of them while the world burns around them”. Effective Altruists’ view artists as selfish whereas Artists see their work as transformational. There is no correct answer to if art is a waste of time; it is all opinion based. The first thing that comes to mind when hearing this debate is, What would this world be like without art? I imagine a boring, uneventful, dreary, colorless, and unjoyful society. I envision people walking around looking glum and not having the energy to get through life. How could we have life without it?

  9. tmara1

    A controversial question that is currently being asked by Rhys Southan is “Is Art a Waste of Time?”. To many, including myself, even asking this question is a waste of time. As Steven Soderbergh once said “I think this world would be unlivable without art” and I couldn’t agree more. I’m also sure that Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn would as well. In their TED talk, they discussed how they went to impoverished neighborhoods in Rio and North Philadelphia and painted murals on the buildings there. By doing so, they have changed the way the residents and passerby’s view these low income neighborhoods. Now according to the theoretical mindset of Effective Altruists discussed in Southan’s article, this would not qualify as a “good” deed. Effective Altruism is a growing activism movement that believes in working as hard to earn money and then giving as much of it as you can to the needy. Now this of course is a very honorable concept but a catch of this movement is its view on art. Essentially they believe that art is a waste of time and creating it is a selfish act because it is not directly helping anyone. To me, art is often an intangible thing that can not be measured but the impact it makes on the world is definitely something that can help people just like Haas and Hahn did.

    • Rsheahan

      Your hook really draws in the reader, I like how you gave your opinion after the first sentence. Maybe try to create a more concise and detailed thesis statement. overall this is a great start to your essay.

  10. jcrocker5

    Members of Effective Altruism believe that creating artwork is a waste of time. They believe that the time and money spent creating art, music, movies, or other types of media could be used for making the world a better place. For example, in “Is Art a Waste of Time?,” Rhys Southan says that Effective Altruists don’t care about “beauty, knowledge, life or the environment for their own sake,” but rather they care about these things only as much as they contribute to wellbeing. This means that if a piece of art is not directly contributing to the greater good of others then they have no interest in it. They also believe that the good you do only counts as much as “what you accomplish over and above what the next person would have done in your place.” People are replaceable and the person doing the job makes no difference as long as the job gets done. I think that their ideals are well intentioned in theory, but they don’t take individual people’s thoughts into account. If they really are focused on bringing happiness to the world then why couldn’t they use these works of art that make people happy to accomplish their goal? Many form of art have major positive impacts on people’s lives and therefore are not a waste of time.

  11. tcasey

    Art, the human races’ most coveted ritual for over 10,000 years. In modern times art has changed from being a way to document our triumphs to a form of self-expression. Many people, such as Effective Altruists(EA’s) in Rhys Southan’s “Is Art a Waste of Time?”, believe that art is a waste of time that uses valuable resources that could be better used elsewhere. However, Art is far from a waste of time. It’s an indulgence, a form of pleasure that can change communities, as seen in Haas and Hahn’s TED talk “How painting can transform communities.” Art is a powerful tool that if used correctly can influence the environment and people surrounding it.

  12. mremavich

    A recent common argument that has been coming up lately is “Is art a waste of time”? Art is a broad range of pastimes that expresses the author’s conceptual idea or technical skill. Rhys Southan’s “Is Art a Waste of Time” shows his own beliefs and morals about how while also showing how the activism movement Effective Altruism see art. The “EAs” for short see art as almost a waste of time, they believe that there could be a good deed being done instead of creating art. On the other spectrum, Benjamin Zander’s Ted talk on “The transformative power of classical music” explores art through music and justifies how music has the power to change us from within. Art is a privilege that allows absolutely anyone to express their mind for the world to see not quite merely a “waste of time”.

  13. cbirch2

    While the EA spend thousands of dollars helping people in poverty by giving them food, water, and donations, a simpler and also effective solution might just be paint. Painters Hahn & Haas found an efficient solution to help bring a community together and help the people there by painting giant murals in the poor communities. Because of the work done in these poor communities by the artists, the Guardian had this to say, “Notorious slum becomes open-air gallery.” This may not seem like much, but to the people there, it seemed as though they got a new opportunity. The press that these communities got painted them in a better light, talking about them as actually people instead of just scoundrels, ruffients, or other such derogatory terms. While the EA’s methods provide a quick relief to those in need, it does not last. In comparison, the hope that the positive press gives out, is a lasting relief to those in communities.The positivity creates pride in their community, makes the people want to be better, and most importantly it allows them to be seen as people from those outside of the community.

  14. jlaurie

    Exploring the importance of art and the role it has played in developing our society has made me come to realize that it is an essential part of life. Benjamin Zander, an eccentric conductor, gave a TED talk trying to convince the public that everyone loves classical music, those who disagree just haven’t realized it yet. Zander bounces around the stage and holds an incredibly positive energy throughout his talk, you can’t help but be entertained. The purpose of the talk allowed people to feel a certain way, to be transformed by music and, hopefully, to consider all art forms as an outlet for progression. Art gives light to this dark world, I found it hard to believe that a group called ‘Effective Altruists’ stand for the exact opposite. Ryan Southan does an excellent job describing how the effective altruists view art in his article, “Is Art a Waste of Time?”. Southan dissects the intricacies of how art is viewed in their community and found their core mission is to give as much as they can to those in need and to disregard the rest. The altruists go on to suggest that Southan himself should consider giving up on his screenplay to donate all of his funds to an effective charity. I’d imagine the altruists would also believe that people like Zander are being ineffective with their time and should consider switching to a more lucrative career so they can make a ‘real’ difference. Art being a waste of time is an interesting concept, the real question is, what are you willing to sacrifice in order to help those in need?

  15. jpiller

    How does one correctly define art? There is really no right way to do it. Art is an unspoken language of the world, and can be used as a way for people to express themselves and spread happiness and joy. There are people in this world that do not see art as a way to help people and is a waste of time. These people are the members of Effective Altruism, they believe that art does not help struggling people in this world and the only way to help people is by donating money. In Rhys Southan’s article “Is Art a Waste of Time?”, he discusses how the EA does not consider art “helpful”, unless it is directly making the world a better place. On the other side of the spectrum two artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn talk in their Ted Talk about how they been doing their part all over the world by creating street art in high poverty areas. Their art has brought so much hope and joy to these otherwise diminished communities and allow some light to show through during these dark times. Whether someones artwork helps one or one million people, the matter of fact is that art has the ability to make the world a better place and is no means a waste of time.

    • tmcpartlin

      I like how you started this with a question. I think it really draws the reader in and grabs their attention- it did for me.

  16. ebox

    Music, dance, writing, painting, sculpting, poetry, and drawing are all forms of art. What would life be like without these? How would humans express themselves? How would we be happy? How would we do something as simple as communicate? Effective Altruists argue that art is superfluous and unnecessary, as explained in Rhys Southan’s article titled “Is Art a Waste of Time?” In Benjamin Zander’s TED Talk, he presents a different idea. Zander along with a large group of people feel that art is a necessity and it benefits both individuals and populations. This is true; art is an outlet that helps people tremendously. Unlike simply donating money, the many forms of art allow for human relationships to form, it helps both physical health and mental health, and it gives people a way to escape from hard times.

  17. ocigna

    The first question that you need to ask yourself when determining art to be an indulgence or as Southan says, “a waste of time,” is what is art? From what I have read, the Effective Altruists (EAs) would define “art” as a concept that cannot provide any “good” in the world. The TED talk artists that I chose, Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas, would define “art” as something that can appear in any form that changes the attitude of a person or place. Before meeting the EAs, Rhys Southan would most likely define art as something that can have an incredible impact on the world, giving people a sense of happiness and hope. However, after listening to the EAs, he would define art as “a waste of time.” Although I realize that some may see art as unnecessary and purely for self-interest, I define art as something that will and can improve lives through the beauty of it and the way in which it impacts the world. Any piece of art has the potential to provide “good” in someone’s life.

  18. Erin

    Many people view art in many different ways, but the big question is, is art a waste of time. This is a question that many people ask. All the answers are different. Composers and other types of artists like Benjamin Zander would say that art is not a waste of time and can impact how people are feeling or thinking. While other people, such as EA members, would say “if they’re not in fact helping much, artists might be operating own some questionable values”. EA members believe art is a waste of time and does not make a large enough impact on people. These are the two most common answers and everyone has their own unique opinion. Is art a waste of time is a question that lingers in many peoples minds. But to each person the answer is different. So is art a waste of time? How can you measure the amount that someone is moved by art? How can you tell if they even are?

  19. Art is the joy in modern society and is expressed in so many different ways. Without it, where would we be today? How would we be any different than anyone else? Art is what shapes our identities — through the joys of music, the books we read, the movies we watch, the paintings we relate to. Without it, individuality is thrown out the window and no one can express who they really are, so why try to filter it or deny it all together? Rhy Southan’s essay, “Is Art a Waste of Time,” highlights the beliefs of Effective Altruism. Effective Altruists believe that art is not worth the time and money and think people should donate to help end suffering. The EA’s were very extreme and would say, “The thing you most enjoy isn’t the most moral thing to do.” They just think that their goal is the most important thing and everything else is a waste of time unless it benefits their cause. However, the TED talk “How Painting Can Transform Communities” by Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas demonstrates how you can change the world by the expression of art through painting buildings and by giving light to communities know for poverty and crime. This is one example of how art makes an impact and why we should not shy away from it.

  20. mmclaughlin10

    “Is your self-expression more important than human lives and suffering?” Rhys Southan presents this question asked in the viewpoint of an Effective Altruist in his essay “Is it OK to Make Art?” The EAs believe that our sole purpose in life is to make money so that you can donate part of your salary to the needy; they ultimately only designate their time to helping the wellbeing of society. They see any form of art as useless because it is not lucrative, therefore it cannot be beneficial to anybody. However on the other hand, composer Benjamin Zander says that his form of art, which is music, leaves people “with a different feeling about life, with a different perspective, with a different sense of being.” There are several different ways of giving, and art is a powerful concept that gives emotional and creative values to any individual.

  21. sdupont2

    Art is something that is able to have a powerful impact of an individual in ways that certain things can’t. In Rhys Southans essay “Is it OK to make art?”, he describes a group of very opinionated people called EAs that wonder if the overall idea of art is just taking time away from bettering the world. When considering the big picture of the amount of suffering going on in the world they assume it’s just an indulgence and a waste of time. Although art may not always be benefiting certain parts of the world, it is so important and helps life in all kinds of ways. I believe that art is able to have a major positive effect on a person. Listening to the words Zander had to say in his TED TALK “How Does Music Transform Us?” helped me to realize how important music truly is and how much greatness it can bring into people’s lives.

  22. What is art? Often times people will respond with coloring, painting, drawing, and creativity, but is that really all it is? Art can come in many different forms and meanings relating to the impact on the world today. The influence of creativity can differ from person to person affecting how one responds. Southan, asserting that art is a waste of time, and Zander, insisting that it is not a waste of time, both argue about the effect of art and influence on the emotions and suffering population. The immense impact on art is typically unspoken and unheard of, but allows people to feel a sense of hope and sanctuary.

  23. ldarcy

    Is art a waste of time? The Effective Altruism believe so while Titus Kaphar does not. Kaphar believes art has a good impact on society, much more than most people realize. Art has a different influence on everyone, so it makes sense there are different opinions on it. The EA’s believe that art is a waste of time and that there is a lot of good to be doing instead of art. Kaphar thinks that art has many benefits that include allowing us to be able to reflect and understand our history. The EA’s main point is to make a good amount of money therefore you can donate part of your salary to a good cause. Art has a special way of connecting with people and having an effect like none other, including money. Art is not a waste of time and has positive effects everyday.

  24. Syris Hackett

    Art is the opiate of the masses. Karl Marx once called organized religion that phrase, as the world is full of toils and one of the solutions, even if ever so briefly, is faith and prayer. Art is much like this as in it provides those with an escape. Not always an escape from troubles, but from one’s own standard viewpoint. Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, talks about in his TED talk how classical music is an entirely transformative experience. People will come to him and say how much they have changed in perspective and emotions, open up in ways they never imagined before. Although when it comes down to the usefulness of art, there are two main trains of thought. The other of which being that art is superfluous, an unneeded vice in this land of hardships. A group with this idea call themselves the Effective Altruists. Their goal is to turn the worlds focus from what they deem the unnecessary, to the directly beneficial. An Effective Altruist would ask, “why paint a picture when you could deworm 1000 children?” While both sides have validity, neither is entirely correct. While art isn’t what keeps us in good physical shape or progress our species to the skies above, it is what can keep us mentally calm and present. A world without art would be boring and lifeless, nothing to enjoy or feel happy about.

  25. vbowler

    We all want to make the world a better place. However, often times, we say that and nothing is ever done. If the work is done it is through volunteering and donations. The Effective Altruism activism movement believes they found the answer to saving those suffering in the world by “doing as much good as [they] possibly can with [their lives].” However, the Effective Altruism are the ones who decides if the tasks are good enough. They put down frivolous jobs and hobbies like those found in the Art Industry, to dedicate their lives to saving others. Contrary to their beliefs, artist Titus Kaphar, who gave the TED Talk, “Can Art Amend History?,” believes art has the power to create a difference in the world. Although the Effective Altruism group believes art is “a waste of time,” Kaphar shared how art can be used to focus on the bigger picture, amend history, and help those most vulnerable in society today.

  26. Emily Dupler

    In a world where there are millions living in poverty and children going hungry a group called Effective Altruists, who believe that we should be donating and helping those in need, ask the rest of the world, is art a waste of time? Though there are those who may agree with the EA, many believe that art has the power to transform us, as humans, from within. In Benjamin Zander’s TED talk “How Does Music Transform Us?” he talks about how he has witnessed playing classical music pieces affecting audience members in such a prominent way he was even able to reach a seventh-grade audience. Zander points out that while maybe not everyone listens to classical music when heard, it can have the power to transform us as individuals. He wholeheartedly believes that this art form has such an impact on people that he can see their eyes shining. It really is true when you really touch someone with any form or type that may speak to that individual, you can see it in their eyes and face. Why the EA’s don’t think that art can change the world is just baffling to me. I get that they think everyone should be doing more to help end poverty and world hunger, but that doesn’t mean we should stop being creative and using art to make the world aware of these issues. That is why when presented with the question, “is art a waste of time,” I cannot just simply say no as it becomes a much bigger, and more in-depth issue of not only how it is not a waste of time, but how we can use art to promote change.

  27. zcondonlayman

    Art can be beautiful to the eye. But is the meaning behind the art, as beautiful as we see it? In Rhys Southan’s “Is Art a Waste of Time, he explores the life of an effective altruist. Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that uses evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. Southan argues that while art is a beautiful piece of life, artist are not benefiting those around them who are suffering. Those who are suffering, may be because of the kinds of art portrayed within our society. In a TED Radio Hour a man named Titus Kaphar discusses the painful history behind some of americas most iconic statues and sculptures. Kaphar opens our eyes, to amend some of these pieces of art. The realization of the racism that lies beneath each one, is something that needs to be addressed. Not to tear down the art, but to recreate art that represents who we are today. From this I reason to look forward to what the possibilities could be for enhancing the arts in a way that can be inclusive. If art remains with hidden messages about our pasts, is it a waste of time to do it?

  28. ireis

    Art changes. It changes the physical world with age and peoples’ perspectives. Once an elaborate and bright painting, with visible brush strokes and raised paint, is now a flat, two-toned canvas. Once a statue that applauded a confederate slave holder, now depicts the pain that he caused. Art is impactful, it makes people feel an indescribable emotion.d This feeling can be so powerful that it could form a different opinion for the person than they had before. In the text, “Is it OK to make art?” by Rhys Southan, philosophy student at Oxford University and published in the New York Times and New York Inquiry, Southan explores how a group of Effective Altruists view art- is it meaningful or not? Titus Kaphar, of the TED Talk, “Can art amend history?”, is an awarded artist who updates very outdated paintings. Kaphar and Southan have contrasting topics- one is the positivity that art can bring and the other why we should sway away from art.

  29. jlee47

    Art adds so much beauty to the world, yet people still question if it is useful or simply a waste of time. Rhys Southan asked this very same question in attempt to understand the EA’s views. Effective Altruists believe that art is pointless and it provides no direct help to anyone in need. They believe that creating art is a waste of time that could be used saving people who are less fortunate. The EA’s opinion and outlook is far too extreme to support. In the TED talk “How Can Public Art Projects Transform Rough Neighborhoods” by Dre Urhahn has contradicting views. Urhahn believes art is such powerful tool that can transform lives. Looking at these two very different point of views, I believe art is such a useful resource that can be used to enhance the life of many.

  30. nvickers

    Art is something detrimental to the human form as a whole. Humans have experimented with art for thousands of years and made masterpieces that are so beautiful they are priceless. Art is a good thing because art is human. Some of the simplest pleasures in life can be derived from the someone going through and making something through the creative process. It also has great power. In Titus Kaphar’s Ted Talk on “How Can We Address Centuries of Racism In Art?”, Kaphar uses art to amend the past. Very few other tools could be used to do this. Despite what Effective Altruists may think, art is a worthy ‘vice’ and can bring greatness to humanity.

  31. emedeiros4

    Many ask if “art is a waste of time,” but art and art alone, has the unique ability to command attention to many issues. It is most effective in sparking a dialogue around social issues, a meaningful dialogue that results in long lasting change. Titus Kaphar, in his TED Talk talks about his art and his goal to amend our history and culture specifically within the art world to fit in accordance with our values today. Titus Kaphar’s art contains the accentuation the placement of the black characters which highlights the intense racial prejudice within the more contemporary paintings. Within these original paintings, black people are often hidden in the background or smaller and behind white characters in the paintings. This is a subliminal and often times overt depiction of racial prejudice which Kaphar hopes to amend. By altering these paintings, Kaphar is able to show that progress has been made and that further progress is achievable. Kaphar’s usage of art however, is in direct contradiction with the philosophies of Effective Altruists. They tend to only see art as a personal indulgence, as a selfish endeavor. Kaphar understands this perspective and believes that his art, with it’s strong symbolism, has the ability to ignite a dialogue about the extensive and ugly history of racism within society and art.

  32. Taylor

    The world in itself is an artistic pallet that we can appreciate daily. We can see the positive in it or the negative depending on our own impressions on a given day. We can enhance it or impede it, depending upon our choices. Art is all around us, whether it is something we see, or listen to. Art is one’s creation based upon how the world is impressing upon him/her. It has the power to change the way we feel in an matter or seconds. Rhy Southan, wrote an essay titled, Is Art a Waste of Time? In his essay he talks about how the Effective Altruists view art, and how they believe art is a waste of time, and money. They claim that the only way to help people is by donating money. Many people would disagree with them, such as Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn. They were able to use their art to bring together a poor community and inspire them to make change. Their art gave these people purpose and showed them that although they may live in a rough city, painting their building can give the city something to look at and something to hope for. Art may not be able to changed the world, but it is able to change one’s impression of it and motivate a new perspective.

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