I was sad but not surprised to find out this week that Bono has made more from his Facebook investments than all of his music combined, ever.
For Bono, that means that his life’s work, all his creative pain and joy, all his successes and failures (dare I mention U2’s Songs Of Innocence on iTunes?) are worth less than a meeting he had with investors to decide what to do with his money.
As a society, it means art is an aside. It means art is the fries to accompany the burger of life. I know art can’t resuscitate a dying child or rescue a lifeboat in the path of a tsunami but I like to think it has some value. Art has some inherent value that we can’t track on the stock market or hide under our mattresses.
The value is when it speaks to us, when it slaps us awake out of a funk. When it reaches through the hubbub of the daily grind and draws us to some place else.
And while I can stream the U2 song With or Without You free on Spotify, it ultimately doesn’t mean it’s worthless. The song for me, brings back memories of my student apartment, playing cards, drinking beers and stacking the cans up to the ceiling and feeling that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than doing just that, just then.
What is art worth? Whatever your life is worth. For me, it’s priceless. That’s why when it comes to art, to quote the man himself, With or without you, with or without you, I can’t live, with or without you.