Thursday, December 08, 2011

Culture Stalled?

We seem to have trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle—economic progress and innovation stagnated, except in information technology; which leads us to embrace the past and turn the present into a pleasantly eclectic for-profit museum; which deprives the cultures of innovation of the fuel they need to conjure genuinely new ideas and forms; which deters radical change, reinforcing the economic (and political) stagnation.


Mr. Alex said...

Mixtape of the Lost Decade

"The Phantom Time Hypothesis, developed by Heribert Illig, proposes that error and falsification have radically distorted the historical record. In his analysis, we have dilated the course of true events, so that they appear to cover far greater lengths of time than in fact passed. The so-called dark ages, for example, only appear that way because those centuries were mere decades.

Respectable historians give this idea no credence. Rightly so, because the truth is even stranger. It is not the case that we have invented historical periods that do not exist. In truth, there are ages which we have so completely forgotten that modern textbooks exclude them entirely. In our research, we have identified at least three such periods.

Firstly, there appear to be several decades unaccounted for during the fifth century A.D., which may reveal the true circumstances of the Western Empire's final decline. Secondly, it is clear to us that the Mongols invaded northern Europe and conquered the Holy Roman Empire in the 13th century. The astounding deathtoll, and that of the crusades that subsequently dislodged the invaders, is now attributed to the plague.

Finally, evidence is mounting that points to a "lost decade" between what we now remember as the 1970s and 1980s, a time whose full cultural trauma and resulting suppression from memory was so complete as to effect itself even on the living."

Pete said...

I'm unsure if people are more nostalgic now than in the past. The author's premise, that massive socio-economic changes are offset by cultural security blankets, sounds right, but I'm a little leery accepting that as fact.

He touches on the fragmentation of the media into niche cultures briefly. I think this is a major feature of our networked culture. It's a stupid analogy, but I think the mainstream culture was a river before, and it is now an ocean. (Or it may have only appeared to be a river before, from the point-of-view of the top-down 20th century media, or the university system.) This annoys people who care about style, or an old idea of cool because those things required benchmarks that can no longer be located.

What I'm saying would put me in the post-modernist camp. I could accept that in time. Larry Wall said something interesting about post-modernism in that video I posted a couple months ago. He said that Perl (the programming language he built) was a post-modernist language because it included pieces of other languages simply because he thought they were cool.

However. Post-modernism isn't really a position. It's more of a live-and-let-live withholding of judgement.

"Say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos"