Monday, March 07, 2011

An Open Ended Question

The entry you're about to read is the outcome of weeks of sleep deprivation. To overcome my stupor, I have been listening to all kinds of music, ranging from Baroque to Hindustani classical. I am struck by the stark differences that exist in the styles of art and music that have emerged from two different parts of the world. This is a little doodle I came up with, as I was reading a paper on natural language processing.

On Differences in Subjective Expression across Cultures

In the days of cultural isolation, before people of diverse cultures became aware of the existence of alternatives and, before the stage where they got defensive about their own culture; what prompted people of one region to develop certain styles in art, architecture and music? In the cases of the sciences and mathematics, conclusions were based on the outcomes of experiments and thought. In the past, there wasn't too much disparity in scientific thought across disconnected regions and, ironically, there weren't stark differences in the way people approached dogmatism and narrow mindedness (even though these issues can be classified as subjective thought). Why did cultures differ in artistic expression, religious and spiritual belief or for that matter, anything that was subjective? 

In our world today, there is a constant exchange of ideas, both subjective and objective. We are no longer isolated in the medieval sense. This intermingling is slowly moving us towards a culture of homogenized subjectivity. The positive side of such homogeneity is that there is less room for dogmatism and intolerance. On the other hand, will homogeneity be the death of cultural variety? Will we, as individuals, soon enter a cultural vacuum and be devoid of an identity? 

Or am I just paranoid?


Shamit Bagchi said...

Man imagines and also learns from his environment. So in the beginning it was based on what he saw -wild life trees, or even thoughts captured in imagery. Unique styles were created, and these were imbibed and transferred on to later generations to which subsequent generations lent their body of works - evolving and preserving simultaneously. That is what brings about a cultural identity to his/her works over a longer time! Constraints and styles are both endogenous (say cubism) and based on the look and feel of the times - more exogenous.

Shamit Bagchi said...

So yeah its express, experiment and capture and modify in the process. Homogeneity will never happen simply because of tastes, diversity and human nature!!

Lord Akoroth said... Russel Peters once said - In time we will all be beige.

but cultural homogeneity might not occur because as humans, we tend to be individualize strongly - consciously or subconsciously.

our minds our such that we always want something, anything, everything to be 'mine and only mine' and the first and easiest step to doing that is to make it different from the rest, however slightly.