AJ Logo Get ArtsJournal in your inbox
for FREE every morning!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Re: What Makes "American" Culture So Satisfying?

By Kirk Hughey

David Tiley brings up a most important question : "What makes the pabulum taste so good?"

I'm sure any approach to an answer would require a much more exhaustive psychological-even anthropological study -than anything I could bring to the table but I think it could be a very useful line of inquiry. Perhaps there is a common threshold of pleasure-something very basic on the simplest level that we all share- and that provides a kind of security in familiarity?

Those of us who want to avoid the threat of "adventure" or change might tend to hold steady at this level and others who are actually over-stimulated by complexity would retreat to its welcome distractions- its "comfort zone"? There is also the paradox that, on some level, our most self-serving, "individualist" desires are also motives for nearly everyone else (though their particuliar objectives may differ widely). So we identify with characters who "win" rewards from situations in which we can imagine ourselves (probably not solving Fermat's Last Theorem)especially if dealing with unequivocal issues and technological solutions Business and popular culture promise us that every problem can be solved, not by the real individuality of conscience and committment, but the easy way; by enough money, the right machine, pill, toothpaste-or gun. We all could succeed with the right production company and screenwriter?

As with most things the problem is not the occasional retreat but the point where the distraction is a mask substituting for a richer but more difficult complexity . To live a life of decency with a generous spirit is the most heroic act of all. It never has been or ever will be easy.

Kirk Hughey

Home | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©
2002 ArtsJournal. All Rights Reserved