The seemingly accelerated pace of sensory bombardment – often voluntary e.g. social media – can’t feel other than bright and relevant. Zeitgeist has always been important. It is only recently, however, it’s become a disconnect, exclusive unto itself. Being contemporary is good and essential as catalyst for “what next?” as culture evolves but being ONLY in the here and now is dangerous for any individual and for a society, it’s a stupefying isolation.
“He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living hand to mouth.” Goethe
Forget three thousand years or even three hundred. Modern millennials and the Peter Pan apologists are far removed from the decade immediately before they were born and these days even significant past events exert only superficial influence on day to day life (if one disdains to know cause in the hypnosis of effect). How can it not be either fuckwitted or outrageously rude to dismiss something “oh I wasn’t born then!” since we all inherit the celebrities of the past and presume them common knowledge? At best it’s laziness and conceited revelling in ephemeral youth to excuse ignorance. At worst it’s endemic and becomes invested with a wilful shutting out of anything not contemporary.
The poor disregarded past defines everything current yet demands nothing in return, least of all recognition. It’s sewn with the seed of its own obsolescence and modern life doesn’t insist we listen to the dead. Or the old.
Time is ever limited and these days, one could say, people are early absolved – conditioned into a habitual lack of true curiosity – schmoozed into killing time titillating themselves like hummingbirds sampling tabloid Twitter and the comfortable preachers to whatever happens to be their particular choir.
You see, a true and living curiosity will pick up the most slender of threads and follow its lead – alert and hopeful and unaccompanied – to the light or discovery or freedom (however transient) from the labyrinth of mob media furore. This trait of wonderment has atrophied the past few decades. Choice aplenty there is, in a way, but without discernment and exposure it’s like a world in monochrome. Most find their way to the most blandly familiar smorgasbord of easy gratification. Another day lost.
Sometimes we have to say no to merrily killing time, same as we know to deny becoming compulsive about our id, our libido, our potential addictions. There are many opiates in this world. We’ve been used to boredom being the key signifier for when to chase down something new. This won’t do any more. We’ve become trained to mistake impatience for real boredom long before getting anywhere near being able to judge a thing’s quality. This must be fought against. It’s partly self-serving, partly letting ourselves be conditioned to docile acquiescence. We’re mostly not given any help building that habit of independent discovery. Why should we? It’s bad for business.
It doesn’t take much to dissuade the neophyte explorer from those experiences that might threaten genuine evolution of the mind. Exploring is harder than masturbation and less immediate than validation bought at the mall.
So hence Narcissus and a Hundred Echoes. At root it’s a time-saving list to give a little signposting. Be a little humble, too. Agree or disagree, love or dislike, if you get nothing from the paradigm creativity the list brings together, it’s your fault and you haven’t understood the work. Of course this can be a tough self-criticism. It’s also essential!
It’s not a question of what is or isn’t art. We’ve tried to bring things closer to science insist as every work has been peer reviewed in a way you can be 100% confident in its worth. It’s up to you to reach communion. Most of the voices you’ll hear are dead. No need to be competitive over opinion.
Who knows but maybe we’ll reach such a low ebb culturally it’ll eventually drive people to escape the banality of yet another photo of somebody’s lunch or glassy-eyed selfie all self and no joy. Maybe that’ll finally put this endlessly reskinned consumer diarrhoea back in its place.