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IlanaSimons
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Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

[ Edited ]

Whether you like realistic or abstract art might tell us something about your political allegiances.  A recent study shows that preferences in art relate to political leanings: People who like realistic art tend to vote Republican, and those who like abstract art tend to vote Democrat.  In terms of writing, this means a Republican would likely favor Plato or Alexander Pope over Virginia Woolf or James Joyce.  In terms of painting, a Republican would likely favor Andrew Wyeth over Wassily Kandinsky.

Of course that fact about who likes what could either be a fact about hardwired tendencies or cultural allegiances.  That is: Maybe some of us are hide-wired to be liberal.  We like change, smashed hierarchies, open ends, and ambiguity.  That would be a fact about how our brains work.  We resist the truths which are handed down, constructed by other minds.  We like to be invested in a continual construction of new truths; we like flux.  Conservatives, in this formulation, would naturally tend toward stasis: They are the minds that find pleasure in the known and the logically determined.  They find peace in the promise of historical precedent.

 

There is, indeed, some research to show that this biological thesis is true.  If you give personality tests to Liberals and Conservatives, for instance, you find that Liberals are drawn to ambiguity; and they tend to prefer open ended stories over clearly-cut ones.  They also tend to be “sensation-seekers,” which means they seek adrenaline-inducing experiences in real life (well outside of the voting booth).  They tend to like shifts in their careers and relationships, as well as sexual transgression.  They like a sensation of “change” that runs not just in the mind, but the body.  On the other hand, political Conservatives tend to be drawn to stability in multiple forms—to music at a lower level, to singular career trajectories, to consistent sexual experiences.  In this sense, Liberals are the ones who are hardwired to love “A Change We Can Believe In.”

 

That said, all of these tendencies above might—more than anything else—be tribal commitments.  We’re all born into tribes, and no matter what our biological proclivities, we want to maintain membership in those tribes.  Our parents and communities raise us in some way, and we generally adopt likeminded allegiances.  These allegiances range from political parties to what cars we drive and what novels we read.  Liberals, for instance, buy the line that they “enjoy openness, creativity, and change,” and so feel obliged, for clan membership, to value those things in art and music.

 

For fun here, look at one neat study: A study of eight Mount Everest hikers showed that they were all distinctly “sensation-seekers.”  That makes sense: They became mountain climbers because they liked pain, physical challenges, and change in temperature and physical experience.  But in an interesting corollary, they all also had a proclivity for taking political risks.  Of course this doesn’t mean they were politically Liberal.  But they did like change—they liked a good rattle in their political lives, and not just in their bodies.

So: Have you had the sense that Liberals are also sensation-seekers in other areas?  Tell me your hunches.  If you dare to reveal anything personal, tell me if you like realistic or abstract novels, and where you sit politically.  Me: I’m a liberal who likes Modernism.  Call me conventional in that sense: I fit the mold.  I’m either hard wired or culturally wired to dislike stasis.

 
Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-23-2009 07:53 PM



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thewanderingjew
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

What is on my mind is usually on my tongue, so here goes....what about independents?

My taste runs the gamut on both sides of the art equation. I like modernism and realism.

I do not like anything open ended, I am task oriented but I am open to new truths and ideas and always want to find solutions to problems and explore new avenues to do that. I like logic and am risk averse. I believe we need to learn from our mistakes, historically, so we don't make them again. I do not like ambiguity at all, I prefer certainty. I prefer stability. Instability can lead to failure and I prefer success. I am low key and do not like to draw attention to myself. I prefer to do things anonymously, for their positive benefits, not for the accolades.

I find the term "A Change We Can Believe In" nebulous. I like change for a reason not for the sake of change. When it comes to government and security, especially, I don't see any place for risk. In those areas I prefer stasis.

I don't believe my values are tribal. We may be exposed to certain things by our "tribe" but as we mature we also educate ourselves. We grow more worldly and become more independent and we are better able to decide things for ourselves. I would think young adults would want to separate from the group in some way to assert themselves as mature individuals. I did not want to adopt the same allegiances as my parents. I often went head to head with my parents because they were not happy that I disagreed with them or their advice. My parents political beliefs depended on what party could serve their needs. My political beliefs depend on which party I believe will be best for the country, not myself.

My taste in books also ran opposite to my tribe's. My family preferred light fiction, that I considered trash, and I preferred science fiction; my imagination loved to run wild. I also liked historic fiction or non-fiction. As I matured I preferred to read about topics that were true to life or enlightening. I love books that make me think and that widen my horizons teaching me things I never knew before. I love memoirs. I love non fiction when it isn't too dry. I love mysticism.

Everything I do, I do with purpose, I suppose. I am not frivolous. I think that Liberals are more light-hearted and Conservatives are more serious. I would like to think I am more in the middle but then again, sometimes I have a foot in both worlds. I am probably an Independent on some issues, a Conservative on others and a Liberal on still others. I have multiple values systems but they are all rooted in moral and ethical principles.

I think the more mature one becomes, the less liberal and the more practical one becomes. That does not have anything to do with actual age. Some of us never grow old. Some of us never mature. In some ways I am still 18 in my head but my numerical age commands me to be a seasoned adult.
I hope no one gets angry with me for posting this. You kind of said post it if you dare and I guess this is the liberal side of me taking a risk and the conservative side is giving you half an apology for the post by asking you not to be angry! I see myself as moderate, perhaps closer to the conservative side of it, but unconventional, since my views change depending on the issue and the information surrounding it rather than any set of core beliefs.:smileywink:

twj

 

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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

I'm definitely a left-leaning moderate.  In the art example, I tend to prefer more realistic-looking art, as far as the art I own, but I also appreciate abstract pieces.  I'm a massive supporter of funding for the arts, but I'm also quite stodgy and I like my routine.  I usually vote for a Democratic or Independent candidate, not because of party but usually the Republican candidate has a platform I do not agree with (in both the 2000 and 2004 elections I voted for Independent presidential tickets because I liked neither major party candidate; in 2008 I voted for Obama because he was the candidate with whom I had fewer disagreements).

 

I actually prefer being a moderate because I feel that allows me the ability to view more sides to an issue.  I don't feel ideologically tied to a particular angle or reading of a situation. 

Melissa W.
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

[ Edited ]

Thanks for the post, wanderingjew.

No need to apologize--you did give me just what I asked for!

I think your distaste for ambiguity does resonate with those studies I sighted: While moderate, you lean to the right; and along those lines, you dislike ambiguity and loose ends. 

 

I am interested in you comment that Liberalism is usually the vision for the young; and as they grow older, they become more conservative.  I think that's always been true. 

Though I wonder if that trajectory will change in the coming years.  After all, the conservative truism (something like "The American Dream of achievement is viable for anyone with gumption" ) used to feel like the practical stance.  And the Liberal Rallying Call, (something like "we all need to proactively create social supports" ) sounded like the idealist's stance.  But with the great crumbling of our economy, the conservative stance might start to seem more naive or idealistic, and the liberal stance more practical.  I guess time will tell....

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-24-2009 08:09 AM



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IlanaSimons
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

Thanks for the post.  I've got to reveal all my cards: When it comes to visual arts, I also highly prefer the realistic over the abstract.  But I'm still a liberal.

 


pedsphleb wrote:

I'm definitely a left-leaning moderate.  In the art example, I tend to prefer more realistic-looking art, as far as the art I own, but I also appreciate abstract pieces.  I'm a massive supporter of funding for the arts, but I'm also quite stodgy and I like my routine.  I usually vote for a Democratic or Independent candidate, not because of party but usually the Republican candidate has a platform I do not agree with (in both the 2000 and 2004 elections I voted for Independent presidential tickets because I liked neither major party candidate; in 2008 I voted for Obama because he was the candidate with whom I had fewer disagreements).

 

I actually prefer being a moderate because I feel that allows me the ability to view more sides to an issue.  I don't feel ideologically tied to a particular angle or reading of a situation. 


 




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Peppermill
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

I am interested in your comment that Liberalism is usually the vision for the young; and as they grow older, they become more conservative.  I think that's always been true.

 

 

I had a wonderful matriarch for a maternal grandmother.  She was often the champion of her grandchildren.

 

Sometimes I used to say that there is a period of one's life when one has made huge investments in the status quo, so it is natural to protect -- as was true for my parents and their siblings at that point.  But, Grandmother had lived through those days and was now at a time in her life when she could bring her wisdom to both generations.

 

Is that Liberal versus Conservative?  Does it matter?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

I think something you're saying is that, at least on a personal level, we all gain conservative qualities with age--if only because we want to maintain what we've built and believed in so far.  I think that's true.

 

(Unless, of course, someone finds himself at 75, bankrupt and dismissed by the world.  Then she'd fight and claw for change.)

 


Peppermill wrote:

I am interested in your comment that Liberalism is usually the vision for the young; and as they grow older, they become more conservative.  I think that's always been true.

 

 

I had a wonderful matriarch for a maternal grandmother.  She was often the champion of her grandchildren.

 

Sometimes I used to say that there is a period of one's life when one has made huge investments in the status quo, so it is natural to protect -- as was true for my parents and their siblings at that point.  But, Grandmother had lived through those days and was now at a time in her life when she could bring her wisdom to both generations.

 

Is that Liberal versus Conservative?  Does it matter?


 




Ilana
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Peppermill
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

 

But, I am also saying that, like my Grandmother, some become open to change and alternative values because they recognize the limitations of what they have held dear and worked so hard to create.

 


IlanaSimons wrote:
I think something you're saying is that, at least on a personal level, we all gain conservative qualities with age--if only because we want to maintain what we've built and believed in so far.  I think that's true.
(Unless, of course, someone finds himself at 75, bankrupt and dismissed by the world.  Then she'd fight and claw for change.)

Peppermill wrote:

I am interested in your comment that Liberalism is usually the vision for the young; and as they grow older, they become more conservative.  I think that's always been true.

 

 

I had a wonderful matriarch for a maternal grandmother.  She was often the champion of her grandchildren.

 

Sometimes I used to say that there is a period of one's life when one has made huge investments in the status quo, so it is natural to protect -- as was true for my parents and their siblings at that point.  But, Grandmother had lived through those days and was now at a time in her life when she could bring her wisdom to both generations.

 

Is that Liberal versus Conservative?  Does it matter?



"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Melissa_W
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

I'm glad you're a liberal - I feel like I'm in good company then and not a pariah (I've met some really, really far-right conservatives and I was called a "bleeding-heart liberal" because I tend to straddle the fence on a number of issues; I really just had to laugh then).


IlanaSimons wrote:

Thanks for the post.  I've got to reveal all my cards: When it comes to visual arts, I also highly prefer the realistic over the abstract.  But I'm still a liberal.


 

Melissa W.
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?


pedsphleb wrote:

I'm glad you're a liberal - I feel like I'm in good company then and not a pariah (I've met some really, really far-right conservatives and I was called a "bleeding-heart liberal" because I tend to straddle the fence on a number of issues; I really just had to laugh then).

 


Melissa -- It was in the midwest (in college years) that I was invited to a meeting of a very conservative organization.  Extremists exist in all parts of this country.  We probably each have one or more topics on which we have positions that are at the tails of any Bell Curve plot.  But, the film that one night shall always haunt me and remind me to refresh myself from time to time on just what is propaganda and how to recognize it.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

The problem I have with labels like liberal and conservative is that the terms mean very different things now from what they did when I was growing up.  The terms have moved away from me, and I can't catch up. 
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Re: Week 87: Liberals Like Abstract Art. Republicans Like Realism. True or False?

What was it Churchill said?  Any man under thirty who isn't a liberal has no heart; any man over thirty who isn't a conservative has no brain.  Something on that order.  I thlnk there's something to that.  Not everything, of course, but something.

 

Question, though. Is abstract art a learned or acquired taste?   

 

And when you say abstract art and representational art, there is so much you might be including in those terms.  Some abstract art I really like; some I abhor (is it necessary to bring in urinals as "art" yet again?  :smileymad: )

 

Some representational art I really like, some I think is awful.  (Poker playing dogs, anyone?  Is that abstract or representational, by the way?  Or do we just call it not art, but then who is to define what art is and isn't?)

 

Photography is for the most part a representational art, but most of it leaves me cold as an art form, except for Ansel Adams.  But a picture of a single old shoe in the gutter -- that's supposed to be art?????  Very representational, very unabstract, very not my taste.

 

I'm rambling.  I'll stop.

 

 

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