100 Watts : The abundance of culture and the end of rarity

My column in this week’s Auroran was about what happens when everything is available, all the time.

You can read it here:

V11N38P04.pdf
Download this file

It was influenced by Bill Wyman of Slate piece titled “Lester Bang’s Basment”:
http://www.slate.com/id/2291532/pagenum/all/#p2

Anyone who has amassed collections of music, movies and books are now experiencing a new reality where there is no collector’s market for MP3’s, Netflix or Kindle. And that’s not a bad direction to be headed.

Although Wyman focused on the musical side of the creative field his points get much deeper referencing Baudrillard, simulacra, and the hyper-real.

Included in his post is a great quote from Dan Chiasson from a recent issue of the New York Review of Books:

“The experience of making and taking in culture is now, for the first time in human history, a condition of almost paralyzing overabundance. For millennia it was a condition of scarcity”

Wyman follows it up with the question; Does the end of rarity change in any fundamental way, our understanding of, attraction to, or enjoyment of pop culture and high art?

I can’t see how it doesn’t, both as creators and consumers, or often as a hybrid of the two.

Here in Aurora the idea of trying to contain culture and program it in a single building under the pretentious title of “Cultural Centre” that no one asked for seems to be an unnecessary backwards step to celebrate and perpetuate a condition of scarcity.

Culture doesn’t begin or stop at the doors of one building.  To believe otherwise is counter-intuitive and, extremely avaricious and downright elitist.

On the subject of elitism Toronto’s own SexyNirdGirl ( http://sexynerdgirl.com/ ) said it best:

“Elitism is a thin veil people hide behind when they don’t feel interesting enough.”

Having all those uninteresting people congregating in one place clinging onto their pretentious nature and coveting culture must be an extremely uncomfortable experience.

I agree with Wyman’s assesment:

“I remember the joy of the find. But it’s hard to feel bad about the end of rarity; didn’t a lot of the thrill come from feeling superior when you had something others didn’t? You really want to get nostalgic about that? We’re finally approaching that nirvana for fans, scholars, and critics: Everything available, all the time.”

It’s nice to have things spread out, and available for us to explore so we can bypass all the egotism and enjoy with others our common interests in culture.

Because in Aurora, culture abounds, from one border to another and beyond.

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