Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
I’m sure this article about dogs might strike you as unexpected for this blog. The World’s Best Dogs, as determined by a “data journalist and information designer” (what does that even mean?). What caught my eye was the last line of the first paragraph: “What dog breed is quantitatively the best?”
Based on quantification, this person has decided that there is a “best” dog breed. (No spoilers here.) I say that’s pure poppycock. Bulldogs rate low on the list. I grew up with bulldogs and had hours and hours of unquantifiable joy with them.
In the arts, we must quantify everything to report back to funders to justify the case for our existence. (Evan, may I borrow your soap box?) I do think that a certain level of accountability is a must. However, how can we quantify the ineffable transformative power of the arts – especially when those effects may not be felt for a decade or more?
Apologies to other arts disciplines (who are all transformative in their own ways), but one of my favorite quotes is:
speaks what cannot be expressed
soothes the mind and gives it rest
heals the heart and makes it whole
flows from heaven to the soul
That is something which cannot be quantified, nor can a value be placed on it.