Tag Archives: Literature

Are we really getting more stupid?

Some people argue that there are too many easy distractions in our time. That we are seduced by an bombardment of entertainment on television, the internet and even in books and newspapers. Because of our acceptance of this mostly shallow entertainment we get less interested in more complicated issues, we don’t take the time to indulge into matters that take more than a minute to get into terms with.
The internet is to blaim, and commercialisation of just about everything around us.

I think that there is a great deal of truth in the argument, and yet I am unsure.

People have always looked for easy entertainment, from listening to the gossiping neighbour to reading cheap love- or supermanstories. The majority of people have always been oblivious to the more profound thoughts of their time.
The biggest change over the last decennia has been the growing accessibility of both the producing and receiving means of public information for a much larger age group. This means that we moved from a intellectual culture that was made by and aimed at persons of at least 25 years of age, to a culture where the participants are between 1 and 101 years old. It was for example not possible some 10 to 20 years ago to read thousands of articles, blogposts, comments and opinions by 12 to 20 year old people from all over the world.

Today’s technology makes every kind of information easily available to everybody and we can all ventilate our opinion in many ways. We are free to choose whatever tv-channel we want and we can read exactly what we want the truth to be in the many articles on the internet, not just what we are supposed to read or listen to.
The level of genuine interest in the more evolved and intelligent culture might still be the same, but it got company with the explosive growth of other interest groups.
Bookshops truly start selling to the masses, libraries change ideology, newspapers get even more shallow. Yes, but one could also say: The truth is coming out. We are what we are. Some of us read great literature, most of us read detective stories.
Should we worry about this or should we be happy that our real interest is visible now?
We have the choice to be critical, the freedom to make up our own mind, and make decisions about what we want to read, see or listen to.

Because that is what we need to do in our times of information overflow. We have to restrict ourselves to the things that really matter to us. A huge task indeed, as it is very easy to get seduced by unnecessary information, but what truly matters is available too, in large quantities. You just have to want to find it.

(Picture by Flickr user chuckyeager)

Informationens 9 manifestos

The article “Litterære manifester for et nyt årti” in the Danish newspaper Informationen gives 9 manifestos of contemporary Danish writers containing their thoughts about literature in the new decennia that we just entered. As always the thoughts are personal and thereby very different from each other. Some don’t believe in manifestos while others write a nice little article with their thoughts. One subject that is more often mentioned is the difference between the popular detective stories and the less commercial literary works. Most hope that the latter will survive the stream of very well marketed, and occasionally well written detective stories. This cry for support for the original, more personal literary works make it clear that the writers see a clear difference in value between the two kind of books. The literary works might not make the writer a lot of money (and maybe if they do than only after the writer’s death) but they do contribute to the more interesting and valuable part of literature. (Thanks to Ian)