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Tony Grist

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Losing Touch [Feb. 18th, 2012|12:01 pm]
Tony Grist
The older you get the harder it is to keep abreast of contemporary culture and ideas. Scan a person's bookshelves and you can tell at a glance when exactly they stopped thinking (or so an archdeacon of my acquaintance once said). This article offers a diagnosis and an excuse. The guy who wrote it is only in his 40s but he's already reached the stage where he'd rather watch Peter Cushing for the "n"th time than Benedict Cumberbatch for the 1st.  

I lost interest in pop music in the 90s. I stopped keeping up with the movies about five years ago. I'm happier with Edwardian novelists than I am with contemporary ones.  I still sort of keep up with what's happening on TV- but that's because it takes so little effort. 

I tell myself I need to get a grip. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2012-02-18 01:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm, given my birth year is 1950, it's kind of hard to tell with me. Most of my reading is medieval history, I have bought Amy Winehouse and Adele recently so I'm relatively current there. Television is pretty much limited to Masterchef and news. We still occasionally go to the cinema, although I have never heard of most of the so-called stars nowadays.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-18 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly. When I was younger I knew all the current film actors, plus most of the big names from the past- including European ones. Now I look at the people on the red carpet and I have no idea who most of them are.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2012-02-18 02:43 pm (UTC)
Honestly, most of the pop music today hasn't changed much since the 90s. There's been a bit of writing about it, about why our pop culture has stagnated.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2012-02-18 03:39 pm (UTC)
Specifically "pop", but also a lot of rap and hip-hop. But, honestly, to people who aren't familiar with it, dubstep doesn't sound THAT much different than techno and industrial . . .
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2012-02-18 11:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, there is new stuff, but it's mostly fringe. Like steampunk. I'd count maships as similar in that sense.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-18 05:10 pm (UTC)
That's rather what I feel, but I haven't been paying enough attention to be sure I'm not missing something
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[User Picture]From: rosamicula
2012-02-18 02:55 pm (UTC)
This is one of the unexpected side-effects of working with teenagers. I am exposed to all sorts of stuff - and attached perceptions and priorities - that most people my age won't be. This includes people my age who have children, because there is much that teenagers discuss amongst their peers at school that I overhear, that would be hidden from a parent.

The young person's view of time is horrifying though. My class of fifteen year olds, two years ago, here trying to think of the name of 'an old famous singer, who was REALLY huge back in the day, and their mums liked him, but head sort of disappeared and might even be dead'. I thought they my mean Frank Sinatra. They were talking about Robbie Williams.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-18 05:23 pm (UTC)
Alas, poor Robbie.

Hasn't Gary Barlow just been made Master of the Queen's Music, or something like that?
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2012-02-18 03:54 pm (UTC)
I must admit most modern day pop leaves me cold , and apart from the occasional forays into artists such as Adele or the latest Elbow i seem to delve mostly in the past. I still find 70's soul and rock more riveting. I think my most recent music CD would be by Kate Bush, her 50 Words For Snow album.

I use to be an avid reader of Wire magazine and that kept me abreast of all the new stuff , and i think i should start reading it again.

I still read modern novels but also keep abreast with the latest ideas in science and philosophy (Zizek, Barrow, Cox,etc). But it is hard and gets more difficult when you aren't getting any younger.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-18 05:26 pm (UTC)
I'm tempted by the new Kate Bush...

I'm reading Hilary Mantell because it struck me it was ages since I'd last picked up a modern literary novel.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2012-02-18 05:33 pm (UTC)
I ossified a long time ago. I stopped listening to pop music some time in the 70s. Of course, I hadn't heard any until I was about 9, so I never spoke pop like a native.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-18 10:06 pm (UTC)
I hardly listened to pop until I was well into my teens.
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[User Picture]From: redatt
2012-02-18 07:20 pm (UTC)
All you can tell from scanning our bookshelves is when we ran out of space and stopped buying printed books :-D
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-18 08:58 pm (UTC)
Of course my archdeacon was speaking long before the invention of the e-book. :)
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[User Picture]From: butterscotch711
2012-02-19 02:18 am (UTC)
But ... but ... you're the only reason I still come to LJ at all, and that's because your writing is so thoughtful and on the pulse of things!

I think you also have to take account of how things have fractured. I think you could find thoughtful intelligent teenagers who are absent-mindedly trawling their way through the history of film by buying cheap DVDs and downloading stuff but don't know much about current stars and to whom seeing a movie at the cinema is a strange experience. Or ... pop music fans who consider themselves very up to date but whose consumption of pop music mainly consists of Idol style TV shows.

I don't play video games, so I sometimes feel very culturally distant from friends who do. They tell me the best games are profound and thought-provoking. I'm sure they are but I doubt I will ever jump into that stream (although I could if I set my mind to it and so could anybody physically and mentally capable of controlling one of the consoles).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-19 10:01 am (UTC)
Thank you.

That's an interesting point you make about the fracturing of culture. When I was a kid culture was monolithic. The Stones and Demis Roussos performed side by side on the same shows- so you couldn't help but be aware of them both, whatever your tastes. These days it's much easier to ignore cultural artefacts you don't particularly fancy.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-02-19 03:42 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched television since December of 2008 and now find myself so culturally removed from the mainstream that I might as well be living in a cave, somewhere. Nonetheless, some of the music I enjoy most these days was recorded just in the past decade or so. With effort, one can sort of keep up. The question is whether it's worth it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-19 08:52 pm (UTC)
There's some good stuff on TV. Not a lot, but I'd be sorry to be without it.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-02-20 12:29 pm (UTC)
I suspect there is better programming over there than there is here in the States. We had got to the point where news and political analysis were half or better of what we watched. It just wasn't worth it.
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[User Picture]From: methodius
2012-02-19 07:08 pm (UTC)

Failing to keep up

I know what you mean (I think). I recently read a blog post that, in effect, accused me of dumping on the young, and therefore being irretrievably old (well I am, aren't I?). My response is here Popular culture, celebs and values | Khanya, in case you are interested. And I'd be interested in knowing whether that's the kind of thing you have in mind.

I recently read a book that some of the younger generation are raving about ("Whiteness isn't what it used to be") and thought it was crap. I find that the only recently-published books I read are Swedish whodunits.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-19 10:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Failing to keep up

What an interesting debate.

No, I'm not talking about the world going to the dogs (though of course it always is) more about it having left me behind. I'm not judging popular culture, simply saying I don't grasp it anymore.
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