Sunday, April 24

"Informing ourselves to death?"-snippet

I am reading an article by T.H.Eriksen, an anthropologist based in Oslo. This bit is really sweet and I want to share it with you:

In Milan Kundera’s beautiful novel La lenteur (Slowness),4 an unemployed
Czech entomologist is watching television in a hotel. Having grown up in a
society where information was portioned out with caution, carefully filtered
before it reached the masses, this man was accustomed to digesting information
critically, pondering its significance and relating it to a greater picture.
Catapulted into the multichanneled information maze of the West, he found it
impossible to make sense of what he saw on the screen. As soon as a topic had
begun to build up, it was stopped short and replaced by something else. (Postman
reports somewhere that the average attention span of Californian schoolchildren
is seven minutes. That is the time between commercial breaks on television.)
Kundera’s scientist speculates that Beethoven’s symphonies will be compressed
for efficiency, until one plays only the first eight bars of each movement –
ultimately, perhaps, playing just a single note. Kundera may not have been aware
of the fact that Paul Hindemith did something similar decades ago, in his
Christmas Cantata, which consists of a potpourri of familiar Christmas songs,
but only a few bars of each. Possibly intended as a celebration of modern
efficiency, or as an ironic comment, the Christmas Cantata assumes that much is
already familiar, and the listeners’ time is scarce anyway.">Here's the article.

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