09 September 2009

Tyler Cowen despre cultura moderna

Din Create Your Own Economy, capitolul 3:

A good way to understand the self-assembly of cultural bits and how it creates an ordered, synthetic mental world is by way of contrast. Consider Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. The music and the libretto, together, express a wide gamut of human emotions, from terror to comedy to love to the sublime, and more in between. The opera represents what is most powerful about the Western canon, namely its ability to combine so much in a single work of art. ...

Today, we don’t usually receive comedy, tragedy, and the sublime all in ready-to-consume, prepackaged form. As I’ve stated, we’re more interested in this idea of assembling the bits ourselves. ...

So, we instead pick up the cultural moods and inputs we want from disparate sources and bring them together through self-assembly. We take a joke from YouTube, a terrifying scene from a Japanese slasher movie, a melody from a three-minute iTune purchase, and the sublime from our memories of last year’s visit to the Grand Canyon, perhaps augmented through a photograph. The result is a rich and varied stream of inner experience. ...

This preference has lead to a corresponding shift in the meaning of cultural literacy. What cultural literacy means today is not whether you can “read” all the symbols in a Rubens painting but whether you can operate an iPhone and other web-related technologies. The iPhone, if used properly, can get you a website on Rubens as well. The question is not whether you know the classics but whether you are capable of assembling your own blend of small cultural bits. When viewed in this light, today’s young people are very culturally literate indeed and in fact they are often the cultural leaders and creators.