Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cultural overflow?

This afternoon I listened on CD to a symphony by a Russian composer. In the evening I went to my favorite Indian restaurant and enjoyed a fiery vindaloo. Later I got home and watched a great new documentary on the Baroque period of art history on TV. That is a fairly typical Sunday for me and probably pretty standard for many people these days. But in human and cultural history the consumption of such a range of diverse cultural experiences is anything but typical.

We have never had such easy access to the cultural expressions and practices of humanity. For around $500 you can build your own collection on DVD of, say, the 25 greatest films ever made. The same could be said of most other artforms, even if you would have to make do with prints of the great paintings.

This wealth of art and culture at our fingertips is fantastic. But what if it also reduces our ability to really get into one particular culture or artform? Are we becoming jacks of all cultural trades and masters of none? Have we also lost intimate and thorough contact with our own cultural roots as we jump from Russian to Indian and on to Japanese or American culture with apparent equanimity.

Image Balouxmix

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