September 29th, 2007 13:14 EST
Forgotten More Than You'll Ever Know
Much of cultural history is like an inside joke... you have to be there to fully appreciate it. Or be able to put yourself there, conceptually. It makes sense only in its own context. The cartoon we loved as a child doesn`t make much sense to us as adults, doesn "t have the same appeal. Just as certain things were lost on us as children that we later found out made some sense after all " "when we "re older .
Like a glass of wine goes well at a dinner party, but doesn`t fit with breakfast. Perhaps The Beatles really only make sense in the era or mentality that spawned it, the time " in which it existed and flourished.
What worked great in the 60s may not work so well in the 90s. Different time, different sensibilities and tastes. What didn`t work in the 60s may work in the 90s. The time of audio/ video tapes has passed... though not their usefulness.
Each age, and venue, has its own gestalt or zeitgeist, with characteristic prana. Without this energetic/synergetic essence-- without identifying and connecting with that essence, it doesn "t mean as much to us, doesn "t feel the same in reruns as it does/did during original manifestation; it lacks perspective and relevance. Unless we deliberately try to (re)capture and preserve-- as much as possible-- that essence when re-creating or re-playing the presentation later, as we attempt to maintain its nostalgia or sentimentality. So that future generations can know what it was like for those who experienced it when it first appeared, or in order to revisit it again, or anew " as it was back then, back in the day. But a generation unfamiliar with or dismissive of what things were like in the old days-- unconcerned with or ignorant of its significance at the time, in its time-- would be hard pressed to accurately reproduce or restore artifacts from the past untarnished or undiminished in some way, and can only succeed in manufacturing a close approximation " a duplication some degree removed from the original. How can the youth of today possibly fully comprehend or appreciate the potency of the first lunar landing? Can Elvis mean the same thing to the 90s generation as it did to the 50s generation?
Especially if people from the generation in which these artifacts derive neglect to care, fail to share these experiences, and pass the context and meaning of it all to the next generation. And if they forget their own past, who bears witness? The original substance-- its original power-- is lost to the ravages of irrelevancy.
I feel sorry for the youth of today, because they seem to have little or no sense of history, or an ability to appreciate it. All they know is what`s in front of them-- and then only barely, briefly. Raised in an atmosphere of World of Warcraft and Halo, can they appreciate, understand or enjoy Pac-Man?
Similarly, people more concerned with business aspects than aesthetic concerns ignore or are oblivious to artistic frameworks. They don`t "get it", are incapable of or disinterested in considering art in proper context. Many of those entrepreneurs " who own the rights to movies and music do not especially concern themselves with artistic meaning or integrity, because to them it is merely something to own and control " to buy and sell. Ironically, they try to sell things without understanding true value or meaning. This is why you get crap like the live actionTransformers movie and Superman Returns: the creators don`t actually comprehend what they`ve got. As with people who form a band not because they actually have any talent or anything to say musically or lyrically, producers often make movies just because it seems cool. Or a misguided effort at acquiring fame and fortune.
Our history isn`t just a mater of names, places and dates. It is foremost and fundamentally about our personal experiences. It is not simply what happened, but what IS happening now.
We can often take things for granted-- like the past, and need to re-examine them occasionally, to remind or re-invent what it means to us. Which may mean applying fresh eyes, and perspectives. What`s old is new again? The young of today will one day, too, be old eventually.
Maybe the young know something the old forgot. But in the process, let us be careful to not forget what the old do remember " and learn from it.
History/memory is a series of stories. Stories invoke and evoke ideas. Culture is myth. Not fake or necessarily untrue. But myth, in its true sense. We should be careful how we interpret. And how we execute (in every sense of that word) these stories we take for granted.
Culture defines itself, and in the process defines us, symbiotically. When we speak of the 60s, or 80s, or 90s, we are denoting particular periods of culture, of historical attitudes/ platitudes. It isn`t "just" music. Not "just" a TV show. It is the lives we live(d). Yet we treat it as no more important than yesterday`s lunch, forgetting that we wouldn`t be where we are today had we not eaten them, then.
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