Where is Culture in America?

There has been a lot of talk lately about the demise of the arts in this economic downturn.  People are concerned that the arts thrive only when there is plenty of money to support them.  And I wondered if that is true.   Many people have bemoaned the downturn of really good art, music and literature in the last 50 or 60 years in America.  The thinking of some philosophers is that art is borne out of struggle, passion, longing, love and compassion.  They argue that in a society where instant gratification reigns supreme, there is a dearth of all of the above.  Who can know real passion, love and longing when sex is readily and instantaneously available?  This is, of course, the cheap, tawdry version, where people use each other with little feeling other than the gratification of the moment.  How can such a situation ever allow for real feelings of love and longing to occur.  Can such a person ever fall in love?  How can you be in love with someone so cheaply available?  Can this be true in other areas of life as well?  How can anyone who has never struggled feel compassion?  How can someone whose every waking moment is filled with easy sensual gratification ever seek the beautiful and the transcendent?  How can a soul who is sated with cheap junk ever know longing for something deeper, more beautiful, more costly?   In this sense, perhaps a life containing more struggle and longing, will prompt people to the love, passion and desire for the truly beautiful, that leads to great art.  Great art, literature and music never came easily.  It was never cheap.  It reflects experience that has been a costly struggle culminating in the final triumph which is beautiful.

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