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  1. #211
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    what I'm worried about is that I am being an accomplice to... something by buying stuff I like.

    It's just that... every time I have a class on sociology-related subjects, I can't help but see it as an ethical issue: "Are you going to be part of the generation that killed art and originality, the generation that undid centuries of exploration of the human spirit, the generation of people who watch YouTube videos and don't read Kant, Marx, or Foucault, the generation of acritical, intellectually slothful sheep that do not see the subtext in the great works, that do not analyze what they consume? Is that what yu want to be, Viridian?"

    I don't want to be a part of the decay of civilization into hedonism or something, but I also don't think I'm that much of a critical thinker - and, frankly, I'm not sure I want to be. If I'd rather read Terry Pratchett than Umberto Eco, does that mean I'm part of the problem?
    Who is laying this on you? Is it coming from within or without? In academia (anywhere actually), there can be snobs who like to strike an intellectual elitist pose and reassure themselves that they are holier than thou and that any decline is due to kids today with their hair and their clothes, etc etc.. But you needn't be so alarmed, because as far as I know cultural critics have always been, and will always be, concerned about the way youth shape things to come. Your earnestness reminds me of a comedian telling about how in childhood he took the old Smokey Bear (US Forest Service Mascot) admonishment literally.

    He claimed he felt motivated to head to the forest every night with a bucket of water. I'm not saying this to make fun of you, I remember being young and getting srs authority-indoctrinated-guilt-trips laid on me about whatever cause was in vogue at the time, and worrying very much if I was doing my part.

    Mark Twain said a classic is something everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read. I think Viridian is the best judge of Viridian's taste. Follow your bliss. At the same time, if you want to try something I do: challenge yourself to keep engaging in some of the higher cultural stuff. Not exclusively, and not in the realms that you really dislike, but just as an occassional mind expanding exercise or as an antidote if you've spent an entire weekend on a bad reality-tv binge. The more exposure to different forms of art and ideas you allow yourself, the more chances are that you will find something that speaks to you, and sparks your interest to delve deeper. Consider for yourself what you find beautiful and uplifting and timeless. Don't take what intellectuals say as gospel. With belief in the value of what you find good, an open mind, and awareness I don't think there is much chance of you turning into a "slothful sheep". And please don't stress that the decline of civilization rests in your hands.

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  2. #212
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    Do you really think less people read Marx now? I'm going to have to disagree. I'm not sure that people were too busy analyzing Elvis in the 50's or flapper dresses in the 20's, unless they were inclined toward that kind of thinking to begin with. And by inclined toward that kind of thinking, no I don't mean being an N.

    The only issue that I see as being extremely relevant is that about 100 years ago, people had amazing vocabularies. Zelda Fitzgerald never went to college, F. Scott Fitzgerald flunked and dropped out of Harvard Law school, Henry Miller survived maybe one semester of college, and Dorothy Parker even dropped out of high school...and they're considered some of the best writers of the 20th century. They all also thought critically to some degree about society. Both Fitzgeralds were SPs, as was Henry Miller, so it's not because they were Ns...people read more back in the day. There was no television so people read all of the time.

    That's the only gripe I have about modern life.
    You make good points... I never quite know whether those sociological analyses are supposed to be detached descriptions of cultural trends or normative criticisms of modern culture.

    I also remember a text by a French author called Gilles Lipovetsky that claimed Andy Warhol was the official "killer" of art itself, since he himself said his art was "commercial", thus unifying the previously distinct domains of art and industry. What do you make of that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    And no I don't think reading Terry Pratchett means you're not a critical thinker. You seem to be suffering from an extreme excess of Fe guilt, in my opinion.
    Thank you for your kindness, Marm, you're very sweet. Though I dare say I'm not really as much of a critical thinker as my peers, despite having been "the smart kid" for a good portion of my early education.

    One of my teachers used to say, "If a journalist isn't subversive, he's a dumbass" (or words to that effect). It kind of cemented my belief that I was not as revolutionary as my good colleagues.

  3. #213
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    Who is laying this on you? Is it coming from within or without? In academia (anywhere actually), there can be snobs who like to strike an intellectual elitist pose and reassure themselves that they are holier than thou and that any decline is due to kids today with their hair and their clothes, etc etc.. But you needn't be so alarmed, because as far as I know cultural critics have always been, and will always be, concerned about the way youth shape things to come. Your earnestness reminds me of a comedian telling about how in childhood he took the old Smokey Bear (US Forest Service Mascot) admonishment literally.

    He claimed he felt motivated to head to the forest every night with a bucket of water. I'm not saying this to make fun of you, I remember being young and getting srs authority-indoctrinated-guilt-trips laid on me about whatever cause was in vogue at the time, and worrying very much if I was doing my part.

    Mark Twain said a classic is something everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read. I think Viridian is the best judge of Viridian's taste. Follow your bliss. At the same time, if you want to try something I do: challenge yourself to keep engaging in some of the higher cultural stuff. Not exclusively, and not in the realms that you really dislike, but just as an occassional mind expanding exercise or as an antidote if you've spent an entire weekend on a bad reality-tv binge. The more exposure to different forms of art and ideas you allow yourself, the more chances are that you will find something that speaks to you, and sparks your interest to delve deeper. Consider for yourself what you find beautiful and uplifting and timeless. Don't take what intellectuals say as gospel. With belief in the value of what you find good, an open mind, and awareness I don't think there is much chance of you turning into a "slothful sheep". And please don't stress that the decline of civilization rests in your hands.
    They're not actually "snobbish" in the traditional sense - they very much value subversion and innovation, they just kinda hate the culture industry for "pandering to the lowest common denominator", so to speak. But I understand. I mean, a few years ago, I thought the "high culture/low culture" distiction was bull, but I don't know what to think anymore - about a lot of things.

    What would you consider "higher cultural stuff"? Do Rashomon or A Clockwork Orange (book) count?

    And no, I don't consider myself the savior of mankind. I just don't want to be one of those "irresponsible youngsters" people always talk about (not that you guys or my peers are, mind you) nor do I want to be "part of the problem".

    And, once again, thank you, Vas.

  4. #214
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    You make good points... I never quite know whether those sociological analyses are supposed to be detached descriptions of cultural trends or normative criticisms of modern culture.

    I also remember a text by a French author called Gilles Lipovetsky that claimed Andy Warhol was the official "killer" of art itself, since he himself said his art was "commercial", thus unifying the previously distinct domains of art and industry. What do you make of that?
    No, Andy Warhol did absolutely NOT kill art. Andy Warhol's entire existence was art. He lived art. His life is almost more interesting than his visual art. Bubble gum pop existed before Andy Warhol. The first do-wop bands and girl groups and boy groups existed before Warhol. This was NOT Warhol's fault...he simply reported what he saw. Andy Warhol was potentially a genius, and he did take a bit from the Beat poets/writers/musicians in his observation that commercialism and industry had become American culture. What Andy Warhol said was simply true. He called his studio The Factory in order to reflect Industrial America. He also predicted that in the future everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. Whether he saw what was coming or people listened to him and made it possible is up for debate, but it is also now true.

    Andy Warhol fucking rules. He wasn't a very nice man, but he was a very smart one.

  5. #215
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    I don't dislike mainstream stuff, I just feel kinda guilty about liking it.



    What I meant is that, by being in an university whose staff emphasizes critical thinking and subversion of the status quo, I'm already in a league of sorts, so I need to meet their standards... Otherwise, I kinda feel like I'd be considered naive or even reactionary...

    Does that make any sense to you? Am I making too much of a big deal out of this?
    You see, the rather large flaw of the Frankfurt School is that their criticism is all-encompassing and suggests no light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Everything produced and consumed within the culture industry is complicit in the reproduction of capitalistic ideology, so it really matters little what you personally choose to consume. Going to see Tout Va Bien at the local art theater makes no more of a difference than seeing Transformers 3 at the AMC in the mall.

    I'm personally not very sanguine about the idea of social transformation via the avant garde or "indy." Sneering at "low" or pop culture is simply reactionary thinking.
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  6. #216
    Certified Sausage Smoker Elfboy's Avatar
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    generally my tastes run more towards baroque and 19th century romantic works, but I gotta admit, Bad Romance is a good ass song!
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  7. #217
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    They're not actually "snobbish" in the traditional sense - they very much value subversion and innovation, they just kinda hate the culture industry for "pandering to the lowest common denominator", so to speak. But I understand. I mean, a few years ago, I thought the "high culture/low culture" distiction was bull, but I don't know what to think anymore - about a lot of things.

    What would you consider "higher cultural stuff"? Do Rashomon or A Clockwork Orange (book) count
    ?
    Taking one's taste and effectively replacing "I think this is bad" with "this is complicit in the culture industry" is a misappropriation of the theory.
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  8. #218
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    I don't see why mainstream is 'bad'. I see it as a preference... There is as great a need for simplicity as there is for complexity. Believe in what you will, or believe in what will accomplish your dream, or ideal state of being and ignore those who disagree. It's always a search for contentment. As long as what you believe in allows you to (survive/pass genetic make-up) evolution says "You win."

  9. #219
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    You see, the rather large flaw of the Frankfurt School is that their criticism is all-encompassing and suggests no light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Everything produced and consumed within the culture industry is complicit in the reproduction of capitalistic ideology, so it really matters little what you personally choose to consume. Going to see Tout Va Bien at the local art theater makes no more of a difference than seeing Transformers 3 at the AMC in the mall.

    I'm personally not very sanguine about the idea of social transformation via the avant garde or "indy." Sneering at "low" or pop culture is simply reactionary thinking.
    That is something I thought about as well... I feel like saying, "Then what? What do we do?", but I'm lousy at debate.

    In any case, your feedback is very sensible. Thanks, Orangey!

  10. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfboy View Post
    generally my tastes run more towards baroque and 19th century romantic works, but I gotta admit, Bad Romance is a good ass song!
    18th and 19th century romantic literature was considered scandalous, a fluff-headed waste of time, or both often in its prime...Wuthering Heights was deemed immoral when it was first published, and people presumed Jane Eyre to be the more "mature" work of the Bronte sisters until the 20th century when academics began to acknowledge its complexity and depth, and now there are divided camps on which one really is the better book amongst scholars.

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