Internet needs is a couple of philosopher kings. Individuals who,
perhaps unintentionally, left an unforgettable impression on modern
history with the presentation of their unique understanding of
how the world was to function and develop.
phenomenon we refer to as postmodernism enveloped and began to
define the popular thought process, artists and especially poets
completed a very distinct circle of thought. Poets were respected
and valued for their contribution to society, artists painted
with passion and purpose, and philosopher kings were understood
to be society's commentators--the source for absolute truth in
a situation lacking, yet seeking, exactly that.
Cut to the
21st century. No longer do our poets, both musical and otherwise,
define society; instead, they reflect it. Some of the most significant
philosophers of our time have provided nothing more than political
fuel, and fashion designers have been left with the sole responsibility
of directing the masses.
We can hardly
claim to perpetuate the age-old search for nobility. Knowledge
is no longer a reward in itself, and a good number of us believe
Socrates to simply be a character in Bill and Ted's Excellent
to dissect and interpret the history of the human philosophical
journey would be an onerous task, to say the least. However, it
may not be unreasonable to point to a gradual rearrangement of
priorities as the influence, not the indication, of a civilization
now characterized by greed. Take Metallica's battle with Napster,
the Internet music source most recently targeted in a corporate
and legal battle to protect copyright laws, and perhaps more accurately,
profits for record producers. Metallica, composers of all that
was profound to many for the past 20 years, are now being criticized
for biting their proverbial feeder's hand, for slapping the same
industry that fueled their success.
real greedy party, though? Is it Metallica and their label, Elektra
Entertainment, or the hundreds of thousands of fans who rely on
the band for sound clips without providing anything in return?
The reward modern philosophers sought was not one of popular approval
or monetary royalties; instead, it was the knowledge that through
presenting their ideas to the masses, they were contributing what
they could to a society collectively seeking to better itself.
However, a postmodern civilization driven by greed ensures the
opposite will occur: Artists, musicians and poets have become
cultural court jesters and are paid off instead of recognized
by greed will be characterized as individuals who search for material
gain instead of intellectual advancement. Furthermore, artists
driven by the same greed will be those whose motivation is that
of affluence instead of fulfillment of duty to greater mankind.
not have benefited from considerable technological advancement
without considerable sacrifice, as sociologist and technophobe
Neil Postman has warned for decades. A great degree of irony lies
in the realization that the same medium we have benefited from
has also facilitated that inevitable sacrifice.
greed has replaced societal accountability, and along with that
has come the disintegration of personal and corporate quests for
nobility. Instead, we find ourselves taking pecuniary ownership
of art without stopping to consider the implications of staking
Is it likely
we will mutually return to an ancient approach that values art
and philosophy and perceives it as truth? No. Is such consideration
inherently positive? Of course not. We have become so accustomed
to art as a commodity that we wouldn't know how to handle societal
duties without obvious tangible benefits as a promised return.
However, recognizing nobility as the ultimate goal instead of
financial success or mindless entertainment might not be a bad
step to take; that is, if we could get a philosopher king or two
to log on and give us some direction.
© 2000 Ryan Jespersen All Rights Reserved
recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a degree
in Communications. After writing for the Calgary Herald last summer,
he is currently contributing to The Gauntlet, the University of
Calgary's official student newspaper, before leaving for an extended
visit to South America to further pursue a growing passion for
photography. Besides the cover photo featured in issue 2.0, this
is Ryan's first contribution to *spark-online.
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