I’ve read a great article by Michiko Kakutani in NYT the other day (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/books/21mash.html?sudsredirect=true). It is full of interesting references. It starts with an interesting observation taken form a new book, “Reality Hunger,” which I wish to explore here a bit. It is by the onetime novelist David Shields who asserts that fiction “has never seemed less central to the culture’s sense of itself.” He says he’s “bored by out-and-out fabrication, by myself and others; bored by invented plots and invented characters” and much more interested in confession and “reality-based art.”
This struck a chord with me. For years I am complaining about going to cinema and jokingly request my time there is paid by the film producers. I concluded I have no interest whatsoever, and no time nor passion for watching other people’s stories. Accordingly, I feel I should be not be paying for their productions, and think I need to be paid to watch other people’s “creativity”. This is not to say that I think films cannot be art. Even less do I wish to imply we don’t need art or that art does not serve a function in making us better. I just think that most of the productions is crap, and that we do not need the rest either because the world is full of art now that it almost makes no sense to go to movies for it.
I stopped watching TV some fifteen years ago as I noted it sucks life out of me. Not only it sucks the life out of me it plain sucks. I discovered one cannot see the future and the past simultaneously if the TV is one. I don’t need that. I have to see the past and the future all of the time.
Taken together, I feel I have no time for narrative art. Life became to short for invented reality. We deal with too much reality anyway. Again, I think that there is nothing wrong with a good movie or any other great piece of art for that matter. After all, human civilization developed from the narrative streams, those being conduits for our collective memory. However, as we are slowly outgrowing our memory based society, and here I mean the fact that there is just simply way too much facts flying around in cyberspace for anyone to catch, we have to adjust our longstanding traditions, including the most fundamental ones.The fact of the oversupply of reality will economically undermine the narrative substitutes. Only the best art will survive, most of it abstract.
So why abstract? Simply, we need art, reality is not enough for us to thrive and to develop. Art increases our mutual understanding and we still need this,even more now, probably than before. Huge role music played in the twentieth century can attest to it. Once popular forms supplanted the elite forms and once general pop music won over half of the world, abstract language of music became a universal unifier. When I say that music is a language I have in mind the implications that Benjamin Lee Whorf’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Lee_Whorf) conclusions that languages determine our perceptions of material reality. This is what greatly helped globalization to happen as it did. In the same vein, once we learned to understand abstract language of painting and graphics we have gained much more of the universal ground then we could by having shared through the narrative platforms that preceded it. I enjoy modern dance and its universal abstract form much more than I ever did narrative ballet for those reasons.
In my field of professional interest, i.e. in the creative industries and intellectual property field, this will bear certain consequences. We are not copyrighting reality yet and the copyrighted art is kind of becoming surplus. As the market will shrink so might copyright based protections systems.