The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Wednesday July 15, 2015
We continue another fun #ThreeQuotes week by touching on culture. That's the only hint you're getting. It's called a “tease” or something.
We may have fallen a bit...
Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit.
I often preface talking about American culture with the descriptor con(temporary). It is too often assumed that current culture, with its particular standards and morals, is the best (or even the only) way to live and see things. Contrarily, what we digest from contemporary culture is often a con, a lie with baggage attached, and is certainly temporary. Generations after us will think they're right and ignore us in the same way that we don't look to the past now.
Because we're often fed lies it's important to have a healthy b.s. detector. What is considered correct in the current landscape might not actually be right. Or fulfilling. Imagine if American culture today was as famous essayist Matthew Arnold describes it.
On idiot culture
We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.
Since uncovering the Watergate scandal journalist Carl Bernstein has written a series of books criticizing culture, especially our “will to power” attitude. He gets a bit Marxist but he's usually intellectually invigorating.
This quote could have been used at the beginning of the movie Idiocracy, the great cultural satire of our time. There's a place in life for “the weird and the stupid and the coarse” – without them life would get too high brow and snobby – but its place in the forefront of our culture is worrisome.
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
It's easier to be a slave when you think that you're free. In America today we can read whatever book we want – but nobody's reading anything of substance. We're free to get whatever job we want based on our ability – but most jobs people want to do aren't sustainable, especially jobs in the arts. And when the arts are failing, as they are today, a culture is in decay.
Bradbury gets to the heart of the matter. A culture that bans books isn't nearly as dangerous, or crippled, as one that has numbed people so much that they don't care to read at all.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.