Too much culture


There are too many shows.  There are too many bands.  There are too many movies.

Apparently in the 1950s there were only a handful of channels.  Apparently in the ancient world everyone would go to see the same plays or dramas.

Supposedly this profusion of different channels of communication and art forms has led to a democratization of culture – I’m sure someone has said that.  But I’m not sure.  The mainstream is still the mainstream, the odd radical voices are marginalized in their pigeonholes, and most of it is still low-quality anyway.

Instead the result has been to turn us into catatonic media-heads, always trying to keep up with one damned thing or another, our attention spans maxed out and burned out on so much “fun” that feels increasingly like obligatory duty.  To have a “full cultural experience” in 2013 would be the equivalent of a second full-time job, just to keep up with it all.  I can’t keep up with it all.  I can’t keep up with the books or the shows or the current trendy Leftist professors or dead philosophers, either, which is really just more of the same shit.

There is a world beneath the noise.  What is it?

If only these shows, books, songs, movies had perfect plots, perfect characters, and sometimes yes they do come oh-so-painfully-close.  And it if truly was perfect, it’s possible that we should just go skipping along through our lives not worried about a damned thing, on a continual buzz of being Loyal Fans of the Perfect Show.  But reality always seeps in.  There is always something not quite fitting about the plot, always something not quite in-depth about the characters, always something not quite relevant about the whole damn thing.  Art can never disappear entirely into its result; the production process is always visible.  In this case, it’s the fact that they just never get sufficient-quality writers, they never do, or those writers always screw up.  So the cracks in the façade are visible.  We, the viewer, are asked to indulge them – asked to suspend our disbelief.

And we try, but we fail.  Deep down you just can’t ask a person not to see a thing.  And we experience the vacuum of our attempted emotional investment in an empty vessel, and we are thrust into the desert of the real.  And reality hurts.

And then begins the next attempt at running away, the next plunge into fiction, the next cycle of psychological investiture in the world of culture.  But in psychology as in economics, the contradiction has got to collapse.  We can’t sustain this.

2 thoughts on “Too much culture

  1. Wow. Your essay nails it. I’m so tired of deconstructing the same shit that I can’t watch tv and hardly watch movies anymore. Computer games lose their lustre after the fifth remake. It is rare now that I am not in virtual space, thinking with my head rather than my heart. I had that realization when partaking in a proper sweat lodge. There are completely different modes of being in the world that I’ve long ago lost touch with.

    • “It is rare now that I am not in virtual space, thinking with my head rather than my heart.”

      Oh god. That completely expresses the entire mental and political revolution I had personally which made this blog even happen. I am really anguished by this phenomenon, I am still victim to it, though I break away occasionally. It’s tough, but we have to break away as much as possible and stay that way as much as possible.

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