Well, I’ve worried some about, you know, why write books … why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it’s been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with … humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it’s presumably to encourage them to make a better world.
–“A Talk with Kurt Vonnegut. Jr.” by Robert Scholes in The Vonnegut Statement (1973) edited by Jerome Klinkowitz and John Somer October 1966), later published in Conversations With Kurt Vonnegut (1988), p. 123; courtesy of Wikiquote
As when, O lady mine,
With chiselled touch
The stone unhewn and cold
Becomes a living mould,
The more the marble wastes,
The more the statue grows.
–Michelangelo, Sonnet addressed to Vittoria Colonna; tr. Mrs. Henry Roscoe (Maria Fletcher Roscoe), Vittoria Colonna: Her Life and Poems (1868), p. 169.; courtesy of Wikiquote
It’s odd but even when I was a kid, I would write about “old and other times” as though I had a lot of years behind me. Now I do, so there is a difference in the weight of memory. When you’re young, you’re still “becoming”, now at my age I am more concerned with “being”. And not too long from now I’ll be driven by “surviving”, I’m sure. I kind of miss that “becoming” stage, as most times you really don’t know what’s around the corner. Now, of course, I’ve kind of knocked on the door and heard a muffled answer. Nevertheless, I still don’t know what the voice is saying, or even what language it’s in.
–David Bowie, Livewire interview (16 June 2002); courtesy of Wikiquote.
Back here, in one of my articles on the decline and fall of television, I had the following to say:
Of course, it may be that we live in an already coarse and unforgiving age, and we just get the television we deserve. That is depressingly possible. Still, the popularity of reality TV, in my mind, is just one more instance not only of the debased state of public entertainment and discourse in our society, but of the exhaustion of creativity in pop culture in general. That’s a broader topic that I’ll be visiting soon.
Well, it’s not that soon, as it’s turned out; but I do want to revisit it. It’s going to take a series of posts to do so, though, so I’m setting this as an index page.
My basic thesis, which I’ll be examining in posts to come is this: Repetition, in the form of series, serials, remakes, and quotation of various tropes is at one and the same time the most characteristic feature of modern pop culture (all genres) and also the sign of its decadence and creative decline. I first thought about this in relation to comics. Later, though, reading Joss Whedon’s execrable comic book continuation of Buffy the Vampire slayer, I managed to shake myself out of the stupor at how the mighty had fallen long enough to apply the same ideas I had to TV. Still later I thought the same notions were applicable to literature, and probably all of pop culture. I have thought about this for few years and am now firmly of the opinion that less is more, and more is–well, more, but also that more is less, artistically, aesthetically, and even morally.
I will be looking at the issue from different angles and in reference to different genres. I’ll be putting posts up sporadically, and it will be a little while in getting to the core of what I’m after; but I hope to make some interesting points, at least. Stay tuned!
For no reason other than this is really neat and I like it (except for some of the 20th Century stuff, but oh, well). Art and women–two of my favorite things!
Art that means anything in the life of a community must bear some relation to current interpretations of the mystery of the universe. Our rigid separation of the humanities and the sciences has temporarily left our art stranded or stammering and incoherent. Both art and science ought to be blended in our early education of our children’s emotions and powers of observation, and that harmony carried forward in later education. (emphasis as given at Wikiquote)
Courtesy of Wikiquotes.
I know I’ve already done the Quote of the Week, but I ran across this and it’s too good not to post.