GEMS OF THE PAST

October 12, 2013

Lachlan McDowell

I have no musical talent, I never have, in fact, apart from the occasional bout of writing, I’m not the most creative guy. I am also not a fan most modern creative endeavours. I look back on the past, and see truly great artwork, cinema, theatre, music, literature, and to me it all seems superior to modern day equivalents. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Shakespeare’s Plays, Citizen Kane and A Tale of Two Cities all seem (in my opinion) superior to things like Baby, Transformers 3 and Twilight.

I until recently I believed that the ages gone by had superior artwork and cultural works than today for several reasons. I don’t like how a lack of depth is rewarded, how complexity is punished, how political correctness is key to success and how publishing companies, executives and production companies no longer want to take risks, playing everything safe, with a new Call of Duty being released every year, and a Michael Bay action film being a bi-yearly guarantee.

I think this all stems from the fact that all of these different art forms have reached a point of incredible competition and corporate control. People don’t read eighty books a years, people don’t see fifty movies a year and people don’t readily give their money to every musician. These huge companies will often find it far more profitable to give people something that they already decided they liked then something experimental and unique. Understand I am no exception to this rule; I am ready for GTA V and most other mass market games and if I watched a lot of TV I’m sure I would watch a lot of generic programming.

I felt as though art and culture were dead, and I didn’t know why, I just sort of accepted it as a fundamental fact and didn’t question it.

That was until recently. That was when I realized something very interesting. I was discussing an idea with a friend of mine. We are rather adversarial, if he says that breathing is good, I will argue as hard as I can to prove him wrong. I don’t know why, it is just sort of how we work. He was bringing up the viewpoint I am discussing today. “Modern Culture is lazy and corporate”. In my mad scramble to find a hole in his argument, I brought up this point, something that has changed my belief in the superiority of days gone by, I said this. “Gems still shine bright no matter how much time passes. There are thousands of mediocre fads that have gone by, in the days of Beethoven there were hundreds, thousands of mediocre, lazy and just plain untalented musicians, and the only difference is that they did not go down in history, people record the extraordinary, and that is why the past seems so much brighter than the future, only the great people and works of the past are recorded.”

I write this for two reasons, the first is that the media and the world seems to be rather dire about the modern day. It is always looked upon negatively, and I wanted to put a little positivity out there. The second reason is I just found this idea a little bit interesting and I have found so many people make this argument that the modern day is awful and lacking in culture and education.

This is why I have taken up a less critical view of modern media, because, like the past, like tomorrow, like the entirety of the mankind’s future, like the eternity that awaits us, mediocrity will always be found, but gems will shine forever.

-Lachlan McDowell

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