To some Cultural
Econometrics will be an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
Culture is qualitative; Econometrics is quantitative.
How does one square the circle? Reality, of course, is
much more complex than theory. In reality Culture leaves
quantitative traces in its wake. Was the play or movie or
painting good or bad is a question of quality. How many people
attended is a question of quantity as is the ticket price.
Similarly, many more plays are written and performed today than in
Shakespearian London but are they better? Complete
assessment of any cultural phenomenon therefore requires both
qualitative and quantitative evidence.
Similarly to some Art, Heritage and Culture are different and distinct and not
to be confused. Art is about contemporary creation;
Heritage is about conservation of past creation; and, Culture is
about customs, habits, language and life ways including religion.
In reality, however, past creation or Heritage provides the standard
or benchmark against which contemporary creation is generally
assessed. Thus unlike the Natural & Engineering Sciences
in the Arts new knowledge does not necessarily displace old
knowledge. Shakespeare, Mozart and Da Vinci still sell today
while ancient Greek physics does not. Culture is the
living fabric of society into which contemporary creation is woven
while past creation is darned thereby maintained as part of our
living present. What is created and preserved is a function of
Culture which, in essence, defines the values and sets the pattern
of a human society.
The mission of Cultural Econometrics is advocacy on behalf of
Art, Heritage and Culture especially in the Third or non-profit
Sector. We advocate for Art as contemporary creation and
Heritage as conservation of past creation all within the mutating
matrix of Culture - global and of the First, Second, Third and
Fourth Worlds. In a world dominated by the financial bottom
line we collect, compile and analyze both quantitative and
qualitative evidence to insure that all benefits and all costs
including those external to market price are accounted for in the
final calculation. Anything less may result in false
economies. Penny rich, pound poor.
The nub of the question is creation, specifically artistic creation.
Unlike 'discovery' generated by the reductionism of the Natural
Sciences (the Latin root of science literally means 'to split')
creation in all the Arts - literary, media, performing and visual -
involves design or the bringing together of different elements into
a meaningful whole. At the extreme this results in
'beauty' defined as the comely coming together of parts.*
Thus a work of art is appreciated for what it means. It is
appreciated for what it is in-and-of-itself. It has no
Physical technology also involves design (in fact the word
technology literally means 'reasoned art'). Design in
physical technology or engineering, however, involves the bringing
together of different elements into a functioning whole.
A work of technology is appreciated for what it does, not for
what it is. It has utilitarian purpose. It is important
to note, however, that when successful both a work of art and a work
of physical technology 'work'.
Meaning, of course, is something that
takes shape only inside the consciousness of a natural person, a
flesh-and-blood human being. Only a natural person can
know. Corporations and computers do not know. Rather,
respectively, it is their individual members and users or makers who
know. In this regard, contemporary neuropsychology
confirms the ancient Greek metaphor of emotional intelligence - the
human heart. Every rational decision is made in one's
forebrain but always paralleled by an emotional decision made in
one's limbic system. And the emotional decision is usually the
determining factor. In economics Keynes called this 'the
animal spirits' of investors. The numbers all add up but it
doesn't feel right! In terms of ways of knowing one can say
that Science is of the head and Art is of the heart. Art
provides the technology of the human heart
imaginative/sentimental/spiritual rather than physical organ.
In this regard the word 'aesthetics' derives from the Greek meaning
'to gasp'. This is the authentic aesthetic response.
One inhales the meaning of a work of Art (or of natural beauty).
It touches one's heart. It moves one. The
movement may be profound as in the case of King Lear or
pedestrian as in advertising art. What is important is that it
moves one and where the heart moves the head (and hands and
pocketbook) usually follow. Such movements thus leave
quantitative traces in their wake including dollars and cents.
Movement, however, is constrained or encouraged by the dominant
Culture at any given time or place. Culture and constituent
sub-cultures define which novel patterns, meanings and movements of
the heart will be accepted or rejected in the Present (Art) and over
For Art & Heritage this is the classical economic problem of
'constrained maximization'. How to maximize subject to a
constraint such as a sometimes hostile political and/or economic
Culture? This certainly was a question in the 'Culture Wars'
of the 1980s and '90s and the 'Science Wars' which continued at
least until the end of the 'W' Bush Administration in January 2008.
Cultural Econometrics aims to enhance the fitness of Art &
Heritage to not only survive but prosper in an ever changing fitness
I invite you to explore
our site to see
the goods and
services on offer as well as to gain a better appreciation of the
unique vision of Cultural Econometrics which extends to
Sister Sites listed on the left margin of our
home page. If
I can be of assistance do not hesitate to call.
Harry Hillman Chartrand, PhD
Elsewhere I have noted how certain schools of modern art turn
this definition of beauty on its head. Thus 'poke-in-the-eye'
art and 'egalitarian realism' deliberately demonstrate the
excruciating dissonance between our idealized and the actual order
of things in the real world. In this regard the original
meaning of cosmos, in Greek spelt kosmos, is the right
ordering of the multiple parts of the world. The only sense
remaining in English is 'cosmetics'.