Why write about culture?

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Or simply, why write about anything? What good is writing in a post-truth world, anyway? Within the storm of information that is the internet, a blog like this is a sigh. What difference could I possibly hope to make?

These are questions I’ve been grappling with recently. Along came 2020, and brought its uninvited friend Covid-19 with it, and the two of them started heavily making out with each other in front of all of us shocked onlookers. The clincher was it caught us all unaware.

Humanity as a collective had expected the world to progress (and people still believe it will after the pandemic), but the economy suggests that the opposite is more likely. In times like these, people will very plausibly confine their concerns to the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – to the very bottom of that bleak little layered pyramid here. In other words, they would be involved with their immediate personal necessities, like paying of their mortgage, putting food on the table, finding employment and not contracting the virus. As a consequence, they’d be reasonably uninterested in things like, say, epistemology, and how that is changing. Chances are there would be more people monitoring stock market updates or medical news with regard to covid, and lesser people reading studies of heightened mental illness amidst the pandemic, or the shortening of the average human attention span given all the social media we are consuming sans cesse during our lockdowns.

Culture, and changes therein, are cast aside from consideration, relegated to the hindsight of history while human consciousness is swept away in the undertow of the now.

The fact remains – in the midst of he chaos, there must be awareness. We are on a precipice of change as a civilization. After the pandemic, after the economic dip, there is no going back to what the world used to be like. There is only the path that leads us onwards, and it is unlit and untrod.

We are at a crossroads.

Without a map. without a compass, and without a guidebook, because there are no guidebooks for great historical shifts. We just cope.

However, we have made it thus far through odds far greater than what we face now. We have the tools to cope, and our beacon lies in culture, in the stories that have been passed down by our ancestors that still persist today, everywhere around us. The great myths of our civilizations have filtered down into our books, our music and our visual media. We find them in Superhero movies, in operas, in video games and in street graffiti. I would argue that they are unavoidable. It’s a good thing that they keep dogging us the way they do.

You see, the world will bounce back. Our economies will recover at some point. Jobs will be created, goods will be manufactured, and vaccines will be rolled out. But what about rebuilding our lives? What about remembering our dead? What about coming to terms with the reinforcement of our own mortality? How will we re-define ourselves as a species when this is past us?

This is why I choose to write. As Robin Williams’s character says in Dead Poet’s Society, ‘We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.’

This blog won’t be just about poetry. It won’t be just about books, or movies, or music – although we’ll be talking a lot about those. This will be a look into what makes us who we are through all these media – in a journey that I hope both amuses and touches you, dear reader. This is about a bunch of quixotic spud-heads trying to navigate the incessant march of human culture in all its vibrancy and find ourselves somewhere within it.

And I think that’s an amazing feat we can accomplish together in times like these.

Published by questingpotato

An incurable culture addict, I live inside my head most of the time and occasionally visit the internet for supplies, only to hunker down once again and think. The products of this cloistered calling include weekly reviews (on just about any media), half-decent articles when I wax philosophical, and many very spontaneous opinions, unsolicited and freely given, thank you. Occasionally I will rant.

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