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Thursday, 11 June 2015

As the culture ages

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A problematic quote for anyone old enough to observe and also inclined to deplore cultural change.

As the culture ages and begins to lose its objectives, conflict arises within it between those who wish to cast it off and set up a new culture-pattern, and those who wish to retain the old with as little change as possible.
Philip K. Dick - The Defenders (1953)

There must always be a suspicion that deplored cultural changes are merely changes to which younger generations have adapted and will continue to adapt because this is the way of the world. So any perceived decline is merely adjustment as the culture ages and begins to lose its objectives.

Certainly modern times are markedly different from the past, technology, prosperity, communications and general know-how have made it so. In which case there could be genuine problems we can’t see because we haven’t encountered them before. Not that we are much good at learning from the past, but maybe we can’t anyway because the past is too far removed from the present.

Almost two thousand years ago Seneca attributed perceived cultural decline to the vices of mankind and not of the times.

You are mistaken, my dear Lucilius, if you think that luxury, neglect of good manners, and other vices of which each man accuses the age in which he lives, are especially characteristic of our own epoch; no, they are the vices of mankind and not of the times. No era in history has ever been free from blame.
Seneca - Epistulae morales ad Lucilium c. 65 AD

It is as if our faults are always with us but from age to age they vary in their significance, in their contribution to the present. Things could be better but that is always the case and always will be until we evolve into something else, something better. Or possibly worse?

5 comments:

Demetrius said...

With all the technology, marketing and instant communication our "culture" now is probably an imposed one rather than one arising from the ordinary business of life.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - good point. Cultures tend to be somewhat artificial and top-down but ours feels more imposed and manipulated than is healthy.

James Higham said...

Or creating problems out of thin air.

Roger said...

I fear you are right AK, culture is now downloadable and fully approved. With luck a few will peer behind the arras.

A K Haart said...

James - yes, problems are their vehicles of choice.

Roger - a few keeps the flame burning, but whether or not that is enough I don't know.