If you were given only one choice: To choose or not to choose, which would you choose?
CHOOSE YOUR OWN
YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE The time for Individualism no longer belongs to the past; we must embrace it today. We must not be afraid because we rely too much on our government, on corporations, on powerful organizations, or any influence outside of ourselves, and are too afraid to take any action against corruption that may jeopardize aspects of our jobs, lives, and security. We must make big changes that might be scary, and different from what is comfortable or accepted, because it is engrained in who we are as a Nation. America today is in need of a change, one that breaks the power away from corporations and corrupt government and allows us to believe, once again, that we have the power to succeed for ourselves. It may mean hard times or chaos, but through it we will encounter some form of the sublime through our continued effort to perfect the balance between freedom and unity. Individualism is a political and social philosophy that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. It’s all about you. It’s your life. Who you are, what you do, when you do it, at the end of the day you’re in control. Nobody can tell you otherwise. Being an individual is not about being different than everyone else, but making your own choices on what to do, what not to do, and most importantly deciding who you want to be in this world. It’s your life, your choices. So go ahead, make your decision on what you want to read next.
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MAKING A DIFFERENCE Great choice. The people you are going to read about have achieved great feats through their individualism. They identified a problem in their community and made the choice to devote their lives to fix it. They decided to take it into their own hands and try to make a difference. It was their own choice to fully dedicate their time to make a positive impact in the world. Furthermore, they are people just like you. They were once average people and yet they have accomplished great things through individualism.
ROBIN EMMONS “Since 2008, she says, her nonprofit, Sow Much Good, has grown more than 26,000 pounds of fresh produce for underserved communities in Charlotte.”
Access to fresh food is an issue for many communities throughout the United States. According to the Department of Agriculture, nearly 10% of the U.S. population lives in low-income areas more than a mile from a supermarket. Discovering this problem sparked something inside Emmons, who had recently left her corporate job to find more meaningful work. “I really thought it was an injustice. Healthy food is a basic human right,” she said. Today, Emmons has 200 volunteers helping her tend 9 acres of crops on three sites. Since 2008, she says, her nonprofit, Sow Much Good, has grown more than 26,000 pounds of fresh produce for underserved communities in Charlotte. At first, Emmons donated her locally grown, chemical-free fruits and vegetables to churches and food pantries. But she soon started selling them herself in the neighborhoods that need them the most, for what she estimates is about half the price of organic produce sold in stores. With her 1,000-kilowatt smile and boundless energy, some might call Emmons a goodwill ambassador for healthy eating. She’d claim
that her produce—from cucumbers and okra to watermelon and blueberries—can sell itself, but her enthusiasm certainly doesn’t hurt. “Everyone’s been excited about the string beans,” she says to one customer. “How are you going make yours?”She strives to make her food as affordable as possible. People are also able to use their food stamps to purchase anything she sells, including seeds and seedlings so they can grow the food themselves. Emmons and her volunteers distribute recipe cards, too, and urge customers to attend the group’s free cooking demonstrations and canning classes. It’s all part of their mission to help people take control over what they are eating and improve their health. And customers seem hungry for all that Emmons and her group are offering.“We’ve been really, really thrilled about the response from the community,” Emmons said. “Even as early as January of this year, they were calling, asking, ‘When are you coming back out?’ “
CHAD PREGRACKE “He lives on a barge about nine months out of the year with members of his 12-person crew. Together, they organize community cleanups along rivers across the country.”
In the past 15 years, Chad Pregracke has helped pull more than 67,000 tires from the Mississippi River and other waterways across the United States. He’s also helped retrieve 218 washing machines, 19 tractors, 12 hot tubs, four pianos and almost 1,000 refrigerators. Pregracke, removing this debris has become his life’s work some‑ times called “The Rivers’ Garbageman,” he lives on a barge about nine months out of the year with members of his 12-person crew. Together, they organize community cleanups along rivers across the country. “The garbage got into the water one piece at a time,” Pregracke said. It’s a dirty job, but Pregracke, 38, took it on because he realized that no one was doing it. It began as a solo effort, and over the years his energy, enthusiasm and dedication have helped it grow. To date, about 70,000 volunteers have joined his crusade, helping him collect more than 7 million pounds of debris through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters. Pregracke grew up in East Moline, Illinois, where the Mississippi River was in his backyard. As a teenager, he
worked as a commercial shell diver and began to notice the heaps of debris in the fabled waterway—one that supplies drinking water to 18 million people in more than 50 U.S. cities. “I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, trucks and tops of school buses. . . . I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it,” he said. With persistence, sincerity and a lot of chutzpah, Pregracke got a small grant from Alcoa in 1997 and spent that summer cleaning a 35-mile stretch of the river by himself. He would transport the trash by boat and sort it on his parents’ lawn to be recycled. By year’s end, he had single-handedly pulled around 45,000 pounds of trash out of the river. His operation has become much more sophisticated since those early days, as his nonprofit now has a fleet of boats. On average, Pregracke says he organizes 70 cleanups a year in 50 communities. The cleanups are posted on the nonprofit’s website, Facebook and other outlets so people know where and when they can volunteer.
GINA KEATLEY “Fresh out of college and determined to make a difference, Keatley turned down more lucrative jobs in the culinary industry to start Nourishing NYC. “
When Gina Keatley first moved to New York to attend culinary school, she noticed that many of her neighbors were missing limbs. “I lived on 99th Street across from some projects,” she said. “I would walk to the train and think, ‘Why are there so many amputees?’” Keatley found out that many of them had to have amputations because of complications from diabetes. Diabetes can reduce blood flow to extremities and cause nerve damage, and sometimes amputations are necessary if serious infection sets in and there is severe damage to the tissue and bone. The neighborhood where Keatley lived, East Harlem, has the highest diabetes rate in Manhattan, according to city health officials. “It’s so shocking to me to see people who are poor and unhealthy and literally dying in the street,” said Keatley, an award-winning chef and nutritionist. Keatley said that when she would visit more affluent neighborhoods near East Harlem, she wouldn’t see nearly as many amputees. And she was pretty sure she knew why.“You go over this invisible line, and there are people with farmers’ mar-
kets, people with organic food, healthy sandwich shops,” she said. There’s not much of that in East Harlem. Instead, the poor community is saturated with inexpensive fast food.“ Fresh out of college and determined to make a difference, Keatley turned down more lucrative jobs in the culinary industry to start Nourishing NYC. Since 2008, the nonprofit has provided fresh food and nutritional education —for free—to nearly 100,000 people in Harlem and the Bronx. Once a week, Keatley and her army of volunteers, driving in a vegetable-oil-powered truck, hand out 500 to 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to people on high-trafficked corners. The food is donated by local partners.“If you want somebody to try a tomato, you give them a tomato,” Keatley said. “It’s an inspiration. They have to feel it, touch it, taste it. “We have to give them the (correct) information, because ignorance spreads. One person says it, the next person says it and then everybody thinks: ‘Rice isn’t a carbohydrate. We can eat as much as we want.”
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WHERE DID IT ALL START? Although the concept of an individual may seem straightforward, there are many ways of understanding it, both in theory and in practice. The term individualism itself, and its equivalents in other languages, datesâ€”like socialism and other ismsâ€”from the 19th century. Individualism has played a great role in history. Great inventors such as Benjamin Franklin and writers like Emily Dickinson and J.D. Salinger have been influenced by individualism.
CLASSICAL AGE “The root of individualism can be traced back to Pluto, about 2,500 years ago. His main idea lies in dualism and intelleuctual positivism.”
The root of individualism can be traced back to Pluto, about 2,500 years ago. His main idea lies in dualism and intelleuctual positivism. Especially, dualism was a crucial element that affected Christianity. Under the influence of this philosophy, this world of reality is just a shadow of real being—the pure ideal world. As a result, human existence in earthly life is ignored. That is, “living together” in this world was somehow less improtant because people were just more concerned to get to the other world or utopia. In this way, people are more concerned with spiritual or reasonable matters rather than pratical ordinary daily life. John Bunyun’s great work. Pilgrim’s process, might be an example of this influence int eh sense that “my” spirit’s journey is an individualistic quest for heaven, which does not need help from others. In this way, personal journey is overemphasized over community life. Gnosticism was another Platonic development whose root was dualism. Another element can be found in one of the most important doctrines of the Reformation: justification by faith. When Luther emphasized faith in opposition to the workof the law (when he
interpreted Romans), he thought that only faith, not the work,sufficed for humans to be justified by God through grace. In Luther’s mind, there was no room to see work as necessary for justification. This thinking represented Luther’s psychological, existential struggle with the sinfulness of himself. In this way, he seemed to overlook the context of Paul and the Old Testament when he interpreted Romans 1:17: “The righteous shall live by faith.” Most scholars suggest that “faith,” in Romans 1:17 and Hab. 2:4, can be better understood as “being faithful” to God’s covenant. God’s people should live faithfully to the covenant and promise. In other words, the real context of these verses is in the people’s faith that has to do with justice: living together, loving together. Faith is not just a quality but a dynamic action word that cannot be done individually. Rather, it is a progressive, relational word. So, in its character, faith cannot be separated from action that is involved in community. In this sense, whether Luther intended it or not, his doctrine contributed to Christian as individualism.
WESTERN EXPANSION “The modern individual is moved by self-interest, as are communities and nations.”
Since the Enlightenment, we have lived under its influence. For example, the main idea of the Declaration of Independence in the United States was borrowed from the Enlightenment: Personal rights and freedom were keys in it. Yes, we need personal freedom and rights with human dignity. But the problem is the imbalance between private and public life. To put it another way, frequently, the responsibilities of fre dom with in a wider community such as a local community, nation and so forth, were simply forgotten. The Enlightenment’s focus lies in human positivism in a sense that “I” can do anything based on philosophy of self-reliance and personal freedom. LIkewise, from teh Frontier mentality in the time of “Westward expansion” we can find a clue that they had to live in such a way in order to survive. What would they have sen in the wilderness on the way to the West? Probably, they might have thought about their destinies, facing opporunities and obstacles before them. Opportunities maybe were seen in building a new kingdom of their race bydriving out Indians. obstacles were more inward matters, facing physical and mental loneliness plus the
risk of life in the midst of Frontier wars. The possible option they coudl take was to have a belief that “I” can do anything in the name of God. Again, their minds were half filled with a spirit of Enlightenment and the others half filled with a Christian theology of providence (America). During the second half of the twentieth century, we are experiencing a new way of life, that is, a highly information-based society with the increasing use of the Internet. Modern complex culture, characterized by consumerism and dreadful capitalism, is one of the places where we can find the root of individualism. In this highly efficient capitalistic society, self-interest is the basis of economy. The modern individual is moved by self-interest, as are communities and nations. Self is a real criterion in deciding an important policy in internal and foreign affairs. Why is self-interest popular in this society? Maybe a clue can be found in the idea of “liberty,” which was one of the important values in the Enlightenment. Today liberty means the spirit of enterprise and the right to multiply wealth and great power for oneself.
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GOVERNMENT & SOCIETY
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CULTURE? Individualism is very prevalent in both our government an society. Whether we see it or not, individualism has impacted both areas of our lives. Some countries and communities lead unique individualistic lives, while others opperate differently. The amount of individualism in both of these fields affect how the people act and treat each other. This is what keeps the cultures of our worlds so different and distinguishable.
GOVERNMENT Individualism offers true independence, equality and freedom, with the most noble attempt to freely give each individual the highest and most complex knowledge available.”
Individualism is the synthesis of most major forms of governments to date. It takes the sovereign divine king from the monarchy and makes each individual a representative of this divine flux within him. It takes congress from the republic and makes each individual a member. It takes the unity of individuals cells operating together as a whole from the federation, it takes voting from the democracy, and with that determines the major and general desire of the people formulating the primary direction of work together as a republic. It does this all with the knowledge that The Infinite is all permeating, within man and without, thus all individual and collective activities will be divinely oriented as in the theocracy. To accomplish these ends free unrestricted knowledge is the cornerstone of the Individualistic society. Knowledge alone is sufficient to guarantee all liberties, knowledge is not only wisdom it is also awareness. When knowledge is withheld the resulting ignorance causes dependence upon others, which is a control, thus true
Independence is lost. When knowledge is withheld one cannot make sound decisions for one’s self, let alone stop unsound decisions being made by others. This allows the establishment of regulations for certain individuals and groups that differ from that of others, thus true equality is lost. When these are lost, an unnatural complexity is formed in which people can then be easily misguided, and controlled, and finally, true freedom is lost. Therefore the Individualistic system stresses one’s responsibility for all of one’s own actions and one’s own welfare by utilizing a system of free unrestricted knowledge. Hence, Individualism offers true independence, equality and freedom, with the most noble attempt to freely give each individual the highest and most complex knowledge available. Illuminating them to the limitless powers of the mind, body and spirit so as to assist them in their individual and collective decision making. Thus the collective result upon society will mirror the individual efforts, and the society as a whole will come closer to perfection.
Students speak up in class only when sanctioned by the group.
Students are expected to individually speak up in class.
The purpose of education is learning how to do.
The purpose of education is learning how to learn.
Diplomas provide entry to higher status groups.
Diplomas increase economic worth and/or self respect.
Occupational mobility is lower
Occupational mobility is higher.
Employees are members of in-groups who will pursue the in-group’s interest.
Employees are “economic persons” who will pursue the employer’s interest if it concides with their self-interest.
Hiring and promotion decisions take employee’s in-group in account.
Hiring and promotional decisions are supposed to be based on skills and rules only.
The employee-employee relationship is basically moral, like family link.
The employer-empolyee relationship is a contract between parties in a labor market
Management is management of groups
Management is management of individuals.
SOCIETY “Individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.”
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state? With government expanding ever more rapidly—seizing and spending more and more of our money on “entitlement” programs and corporate bailouts, and intruding on our businesses and lives in increasingly onerous ways— the need for clarity on this issue has never been greater. Let us begin by defining the terms at hand. To live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted
the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected. Life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”
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BRITAIN British people are famous for their exacerbated individualism. It could even be said that they are the most individualistic nation on earth. Young people usually leave their parental home when they turn 16 or 18. People in their twenties that still live with their parents are considered incapable of taking care of themselves, over-protected or just good-fornothing. That is why parents also tend to force their children out early so that they have to cope with life. (contrarily to the Japanese, who always plan everything in the slightest details).
GERMANY Germans, who are typically individualistic in most respects, also tend to stick together inside an international group or when travelling abroad. This is not not usually the case of other Europeans, who usually mix more easily with people from other cultures. It is wondered if this is because Germany and Italy were only recently unified as a nation, and that people still have a strong sense of regional belonging. The country as a whole is seen as an quasi-international community of its own, a (con)federation of states.
AMERICA Like the British, Americans are famous individualists. However, that does not apply so generally, probably because American society is much more ethically and culturally diverse (only 71% of Caucasians, vs 94% in Britain). Americans also notoriously travel in group, rather than alone. This is the most obvious difference with British people.
FRANCE French people are quite individualistic on average. They are especially so at work (donâ€™t want to be seen as part of the group or, when Americans ask for it, vehemently refuse to wear company t-shirts or sing the companyâ€™s anthem), in their behaviour (each person wants to be different from other people just to prove their uniqueness), opinions (love arguing and be righter than others) and way of thinking (almost no influence from other people, and just taking the opposite stance for the sake of the argument).
JAPAN They usually considered themselves as perfectly collectivist, but they can show signs of unrelenting individualism when they donâ€™t have the choice. Who more than the younger generation of Japanese are ready to go and study abroad by themselves for a whole year (or longer) without knowing anybody and without seeing their friends and family during that time ?
INDIVIDUALISM AND ART In a word, what defines as individual is uniqueness - the thing or combination of things that make them unlike anyone else. By extension, artists must measure themselves not only by the aesthetics or popularity of their work, but also by the degree to which it represents them as unique individuals, setting it apart from the common place and the maintstream.
PAINTERS “In contrast to the Middle Ages, uniqueness was encouraged, and many artists were thought to have been “genius”.
Both the Italian Renaissance and Romantic Era focused on individualism. Even though they focused on it, it was about different aspects and perspectives. The Italian Renaissance was between 1350 and 1550 and signified the rebirth of the classics. The Romantic Era started in the late 18th century. Some aspects that they both focused on were individual thought and art. However, the Renaissance focused on humanism and the Romantic Era focused on Romanticism. Both the Renaissance and the Romantic Era both focused on individual thought. Renaissance humanists believed that people should be themselves and not the same as everybody else. This shows how humanists wanted people to follow their dreams. Romantics stressed individual imagination. They believed that people’s thoughts should now be chained down by society. They believed that one’s mind must run free. Imagination is unique to a specific
person, so it is individualistic. Art is another aspect of both the Renaissance and the Romantic era that stresses individualism. Renaissance art showed many individuals. It also showed secularism. The individuals were worldly and powerful. In the Romantic era, art showed many individuals in solitude. They are by themselves and are powerful. An example of this is the traditional romantic hero. He is a genius who is around nature. Their art is both very similar. The people in the Renaissance believed in humanism while the people in the romantic era believed in Romanticism. Humanism made people think of the individual in a very grounded way. Even though the people had to be themselves, they are still very set in stone. Romantics believed that people should be free and flowing. This shows that the ways of living in those two time periods are very different. Even though Humanism and Romanticism are similar, they stress different ideas.
MUSICIANS “In today’s world, not only do we use music to show our individuality, we also use music to connect with each other.”
In the 1970s, author Tom Wolf criticized what he called the “Me Generation” for its culture of narcissism during a time when young Americans were seeking self-fulfillment, and both Gen X and Gen Y have continued that in their own way. This culture of narcissism aligns with the rise of individualism, which some claim dates back centuries in America and other western cultures. Students in middle school and high school want to be accepted and fit in, but an obsession with individuality seems just as prevalent and continues after high school. We use our online tools—“liking” posts, tacking fashion photos to Pinterest boards, uploading Instagram pictures, reblogging on tumblr—to show everyone not just who we are, but also how we are different. That we are unique. We construct these identities online and then broadcast them to everyone we know and everyone we don’t know. Music ties into that. Even before Napster, people used music as a way to define
themselves (as well as using it to find a group to belong to). It’s even easier now to use music as a means to broadcast your identity online. Facebook’s Spotify integration shows everyone what users listen to. Twitter puts your interactions with artists out in the open (even if a tweet declaring your love for some band or artist goes unanswered). And each time you visit YouTube or share a video is just another chance to broadcast your preferences. While a “guiltless pleasure” society is appealing, creating levels of taste and belonging to exclusive groups help maintain a sense of identity and individuality for many people. Even though we may never reject music snobbery altogether, the relationship between music and identity welcomes certain benefits. In today’s world, not only do we use music to show our individuality, we also use music to connect with each other. It’s another piece of our identity.
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HOW INDIVIDUALISTIC ARE YOU? There are many ways of being individualist. Maybe you love to travel, or you keep a list of goals. Look at the relation of individualism to 5 major contexts of life, and see where you stand.
STYLE & OPINIONS Individualists prefer to be seen as unique, don’t want to be like everybody else, have strong opinions which they are ready to defend, are independent-minded, like arguing and are not easily influenced by others. Collectivists are conventional, conformist, follow trends and fashions, want to fit within the group, adapt their style and their opinions to those of the group they belong to.
MOTIVATION & INTERESTS Individualists are more interested in things and ideas than in people and relationships. They are motivated by self-improvement and personal goals. They feel rewarded by the sense of having accomplished something by themselves, without anybody’s help (personal challenge, for the sake of it). Collectivists care about belonging to a group or community, and feel rewarded by being liked and respected by other members of the group.
BEHAVIOUR IN INTERNATIONAL GROUP Individualists mingle easily with other nationalities because they don’t feel a particular attachment to their own group (country, region, ethnicity, language). Collectivists like by and for their own group, and therefore will stick with people of their own nationality or language whenever they can.
AT WORK Individualists like to be able to make their own decisions, even if it means having to argue a point with others until they win, or go against the boss or team’s decisions. Collectivists respect more easily the authority coming from their group leader, and accept more readily majority ruling.
TRAVELING Individualists need the freedom to go and see wherever they want whenever they want. They can’t stand following a group/guide or having to adjust their pace to others. They travel to see the world, observe other people, meet other travellers, but without ever having to lose their flexibility and freedom. They like having to plan their trips, find their way, surmount difficulties all by themselves. Collectivist can only enjoy travel in the company of others (family, friends, organised tour) with whom they can vshare their experience, socialise and have fun.
FAMILY & ACCOMMODATION Individualists leave home as soon as they can. they like their freedom and prefer living all by themselves (or possibly with a flat mate for weaker individualists). They don’t meet their relatives very often, and don’t let their family decide anything for them. They get divorced more easily. Collectivists move out of the parental home late, usually only when they get married. They are more likely to seek the acceptance of the family before choosing a spouse. Strong collectivists even live with their parents (and grandparents) after getting married and may let their family (help them) choose a spouse for them. Divorce is usually taboo or strongly discouraged.
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CREDITS ART WORK Page 12-13 Alian Ramsay. King George lll Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware Page 24-25 Albert Gleizes, lâ€™Homme au Balcon Fracesco Hayez, Crusaders Thirsting Near Jerusalem Page 26-27 Pablo Picasso, Girl with Mandolin
INSTRUCTOR Tracey Shiffman Art Center College of Design, Communication Design 3