Do randomness and ambiguity destroy culture? With no middle man, art becomes democratic. That sounds good, but not for the artist who requires multiple listens to be understood. As opposed to, you know, a quirky video that hits on half a viewing.
The world is shifting quickly under intellectuals’ and artists’ feet. People quickly make the point that it’s “easier to reach an audience” in our new digital age, but I think even this is misinformed. If you studied your whole life to get a job at a certain advertising firm, and suddenly, as you arrived for your interview, the firm had severely lowered it’s standards for hiring and was hiring ten times as many people for a tenth the pay, the less qualified would get in easier. But that only makes it harder for you to get in, and to get paid for your expertise. The insidious part, however, is that most people, aside from experts in the field of advertising, wouldn’t be able to tell you apart from your new semi-qualified co-workers. In fact, the average dudes may even be smoother talking and less obtuse and appear more wise to the layman.
OK, so the metaphor breaks down a little there. Advertising is about what works. It’s accompanied by numbers that prove or disprove someone’s qualifications.
But what about great, ahead-of-their-generation authors? Composers? Science philosophers? Physicists? Society doesn’t know what’s interesting or worth money and resources as a whole. Society’s collective mind is much like the primitive instinct-driven mind of the Homosapien individual. Lazy, and looking for it’s basic needs to be met, as well as cheap, narcissistic thrills. Our current technology is like one big enabler. The path we’re on is one that leads to all of us working for a giant collective, and in our time off, plugging in to virtual porn to a soundtrack of techno.
It’s getting worse, I’m sorry to say. There must be a solution. I’ve talked about the death of the music industry, for example, for five years now. Where people used to vehemently disagree with me, they now agree. The promising digital future for artists on the web has amounted to begging for money on Kickstarter.
Those who know me know I’m more obsessed with science, art, music, and life than anyone. I love it. I also love technology. I’m the last person on earth who thinks technology is somehow evil or “wrong” in some superstitious sense. But what about ethical sense? And again, not the “ethics” of Christianity that purport ghostly good and evil, but the true meaning of ethical. Is it good for us, humans, in the long haul? Do we want a vapid, cheap, personalized culture, or would we rather have a movement? We could push our artistic and intellectual faculties to the limit on a public scale. It could be cool to be smart, instead of a social taboo. We could be a passionate, living, breathing society that probes the depths of reality.
So where would we start?