‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Desultory Thoughts on Entertainment



My experience of teaching cinema is not extensive. Usually I deal with books, although I did include some movies on a course about science fiction I used to teach, and there are a couple of films on the children's literature unit I have taught and continue to teach. Supported as it is on this slender experiential reed, I shall hazard an observation. Students are less tolerant of the earlier forms of cinema than they are of the earlier forms of poetry and drama. What I mean is that they will, more or less gladly, read, let's say, Jacobean tragedies and eighteenth-century poetry and so on, if their professors tell them to do so. They tend to be more resistant when it comes to the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century novel (getting students to engage with Pamela or Waverley is an uphill struggle). But cinema is in a different category. They are openly disdainful of being made to watch a film like Metropolis: 'boring', 'so slow', irmagahd' and so on. There may be a simple explanation for this: students approach Chaucer as an object of study, expecting to be educated and perhaps interested, but not expecting to be entertained as such. But novels to some extent and films/TV to a great extent are what they go to 'in the real world', outside of studies, when they are looking for entertainment. That such texts may not be entertaining after the manner to which they have become accustomed strikes them, on some level, as an affront.


Actually, though, 'entertainment' is a strangely tricky concept to pin down. What is it? I suppose the obvious place to start definition-wise would be to contrast 'entertainment' to 'boredom': Pamela, Waverley and Metropolis bore us; Star Wars: the Force Awakens, pop music and porn entertain us. This may look like a high-culture/pop culture snark, but it's really not. It has more to do with repetition, I think: we might think that the monotony of repetition would be boring, but in very many cases it is precisely the repetition of familiar elements that holds us. Nothing is more repetitive than porn. The great joy of pop music is the way a limited formal structure can be made, through a hundred thousand inflected repetitions, to yield endless variation and nuance.

The crucial thing is that at the heart of the word entertainment, etymologically, is the Latin teneo, I hold. Entertainment is what holds us (strictly what holds us inside, as per the word's prefix): what keeps us in our seat, which compels us to keep turning the pages and so on. Entertainment is mode of capture. But if that's true, it can only mean that boredom is a mode of release. The thing about watching Metropolis, if your idea of cinematic entertainment is predicated upon the biggest movies of the 21st-century, is how unlike such movies Fritz Lang's flick is: how slow and stagey, how arthritic and often incomprehensible in action. how dull, instead of being nimble and fizzy and instantly graspable like the sorts of films you usually enjoy watching. If these latter things are your fix, then of course being released from them feels uncomfortable. You are the man, or the woman, with the golden arm. Not to worry: I am too.

Of course it won't do simply to flip these categories about: to say 'actually I find Pamela very entertaining, whereas nothing could be more boring than these endless sequences of explosions and spandex-clad superheroes walloping one another ...' It's not that there is anything wrong with being entertained by Samuel Richardson and bored by the Age of Ultron, any more than there's anything wrong with being bored by the former and entertained by the latter. Each to his, or her, own. The problem isn't one's preference; its the sense that a superior taste is grounded in the less repetitive work. Not so. I'd be hard put to name a more repetitive novel than Pamela, though if pressed I'd hum and haw and eventually name Clarissa. These texts are not just the-same-things-happening repetitive; they are the characters-staying-the-same repetitive, they are living in a cosmos defined by sameness. One of the marks of classic literature is that it is not disposable, which is a way of saying 'I can read this novel over and over again for profit and pleasure', which is the very apotheosis of repetition. We tend not to think that reading Middlemarch forty times is an enactment of monotony, of course. On the contrary, we insist that we find new things every times. That's the whole point. Each re-reading binds us more closely. We are held-in by the thing that delights us. Maybe the Jam's jauntily carceral 'That's Entertainment' was always a more straightfoward statement of the name of the game, and less a matter of ironic juxtaposition, than I used to think.



We don't really talk about it, though; at least not in these terms. It's one necessary feature of captivity that we don't interrogate it, it interrogates us. We don't 'read' contemporary entertainment; it reads us. That's one advantage of the Boring, another thing it frees us from. The Boring allows us to read it.

It could be that what 'we' are looking for is emotions: and not just any emotions but the culturally specific emotions that both give us pleasure and inoculate us against despair. In today's entertainment-world I'd thumbnail those emotions as primarily: exhilaration, familiarity and a kind of communal validation. The emotions provoked by Clarissa, or Metropolis, though palpable, don't align themselves with our present-day affective tastes, I suppose; don't map onto those three qualities. The appetite for exhilaration is partly about kinetic action and motion and speed, and partly something closer to the sublime, an awe associated with scale and scope. Modern cinema is expert at addressing both: velocity in the rapidity of contemporary action montages, and the skill with which such scenes are choreographed, actors, props and sets; awe in the miraculous world of special effects.

I'm assuming that there a special kind of eloquence in the machine-made, repetitive, clichéform shapes that cinema serves its audience. Which is to say, I'm not proposing a neo-Frankfurtian attack on the culture industry.There was a time when Adorno and Horkheimer seemed to me to be on to something. Nowadays I'm not so sure. Their malign Culture Industry was, is, supposed to be based on an ethic of distraction, and what the people are being distracted from—the immanent and structural oppressions of capitalism, their own deracinated and repetitive lives—is the important thing. But it doesn't seem to me that contemporary entertainment is very distractive, actually. I think it cultivates attachment rather than distraction; although in many cases an ironic attachment that is aware of the shortcomings and naffness even as it celebrates the vitality and possibility of shared cultural discourse (memes! jokes! cosplay!), or vice versa elevates the individual's idiosyncratic taste ('hey, I actually like the Star Wars prequel trilogy!') as a bulwark against the conformist tide of, well, shared cultural discourse (memes! jokes! cosplay!). Modern entertainment is affiliative; it requires us to opt-in.

If there's something else, some glue holding the whole thing together, and holding (tenet, it holds) us in it (enter, inside), then I wonder whether it might be a sense of shared trauma, for which the neurotic repetition and re-repetition, the rocking back and forth and obsessive making and remaking of favourite franchise titles, stands as symptom. We have to watch London, Paris, New York, unreal city, your capital city, my capital city, smashed to smithereens over and over again: from Independence Day to Star Trek: Into Darkness, from the Avengers to that dour Superman: Man of Steel reboot; from Terminator 2: Judgment Day back to Doctor Strangelove and forward to the string of Star-Warsian death stars blasting entire planets, to ... look, I could go on and on. And actually that on-and-on-ness is the point.

Maybe the problem is that we're talking about a new mode of collective trauma. Not a specific event, like 9-11, so much as a great flow of ongoing traumatic events. Rolling trauma after the model of rolling news. News becomes the paradigm of trauma (because a news story must be a story, which means: drama, conflict, peril, and increasingly means big-budget destruction and catastrophe; which in turn reverts upon the news element in news story). The major forms of contemporary entertainment parse story (or plotting: the stories are variants of a very few baseline fabulae) via strong emotion, after all. And the thing about trauma is that it is a royal road to both those things at once. To suffer a trauma is to have a strong and compelling story imposed upon the otherwise undifferentiated stuff of our day-to-day; it is to impose a 'before' and an 'after' on memory, to create potent negative emotions that in turn provoke potent positive ones, for instance, of revenge, and rightfulness, and meaningfulness. I'm struck by something Adam Phillips said a few years back: 'Trauma theory is only properly secular when it stops needing to be morally reassuring; when it stops having to reinsert a plot. When we were being told that the world would never be the same after 11 September, that we would never forget that day, we were being reassured—i.e. coerced into believing—that we can still recognise a meaningful event when we see one.' Coerced into believing is another way of saying meaningfully held inside, which is another way of saying: meaningfully entertained. The grandiosity of contemporary entertainment is that it is all significant, that it all means, even as we all accept that it's all transient and worthless and meaningless. This explains our culture's abiding fascination with ways of quantifying significance, from box-office totals to top ten lists and prizes and numbers of followers on social media. We want to believe that it matters; and we want to believe that its mattering can be quantified, even as we understand, on some level, that the things that really matter are by their nature unquantifiable. We want to be held. We want to be entertained. Do we not?

19 comments:

  1. Hmm - might also be that there's an expectation of *craft* from cinema that differs from that expected of other media - Metropolis is, after all, a pretty primitive example of the cinematic form; much of the syntax of cinema had yet to emerge when it was made. Comparing it to contemporary film (and that's what, perforce, most of your students would be doing unless they were also taking a course specialising in the history of cinema) is like comparing a cave painting to the photography of Herb Ritts or Robert Maplethorpe, and finding it wanting in impact. There's an easy temptation to abandon any historical context, and rather than admiring what was done with the tools to hand, denigrate by comparison to now. Eighteenth century poetry, by contrast, isn't going to have this problem because poetry continues to this day to be complex and difficult to parse - if anything I'd say that someone like Blake or Keats is actually a bit easier to decode and grasp than, say, Heaney or Hughes or, god help us, Eliot or Yeats. Technique and form have changed enormously, but accessibility remains a challenge and anyone reading poetry accepts that as part of the ground rules. Jacobean tragedy is something very different and an interesting case, because I'd say it's actually an example of a very highly evolved form of the dramatic craft. Compared to, say, Greek tragedy it's practically the punk rock of drama - and again, while modern drama has come on a bit since then in terms of *content*, I think a lot of the dramatic craft remains very similar. Time-travelling Jacobeans exposed to Tom Stoppard or Caryl Churchill might bridle at the subject matter and dramatis personae, but I suspect they'd be pretty much at home with the stagecraft and narrative technique.

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    1. I wonder if that is right, though. In many ways Metropolis is a very sophisticated piece of work, especially in terms of design, sets, costumes and framing. If the acting seems over-telegraphed and stiff and the pace slow, do we want to put that down to Lang's incompetence, or maybe ascribe it to his adherence to a different, more operatic and theatrical aesthetic? I can swallow that the sciences, and even the social sciences, 'advance', so that a 2016 sixth-former understands more physics than did Newton or Galileo' but I'm not convinced that the arts 'advance' like this. Shakespeare is a better playwright than anyone who came after him. The Lascaux cave paintings are amazing, complex works of art.

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  2. I wouldn't accuse Lang of incompetence, far from it. Metropolis IS an amazing piece of work *by the standards of the time*. But we've come a very long way since then, and it's hard for non-schooled/non-acclimatised audiences to go back. Conversely, drama *hasn't* come very far since Shakespeare and the Jacobeans, so it's a much easier reach. And while poetry has come a long way, it's been a weird spiralling path that leaves it not so very far from where it started. As to whether you see all this as "advance" or simply "change", I guess depends on how much your aesthetic sense aligns with the idea of naturalistic/visceral experience; I can see some of the same people who cream their knickers at po-mo deconstruction in literature also being very at home stroking their chins over an ultra faithful (re)production of the Oresteia in all its ancient Greek glory and clunky stagecraft - tho' personally, that shit sends me to sleep......

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  3. sorry - edit "the idea *of art* as naturalistic/visceral etc etc

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  4. I do see what you're arguing. I suppose my sense is that few works of art are less 'naturalistic' than the dominant cinema of the 21st-century: the conventions of superhero movies are exactly as arbitrary and artificial as the conventions of German expressionist cinema of the 1920s, or for that matter as the conventions of ancient Greek Drama. John Lanchester says somewhere that all artistic conventions, taken for themselves, are insane: that the notion that a character in a video game can stop from time to time to pick up a little glowing box that contains a top-up to his/her health is exactly as absurd as the convention in opera that people will sing loudly at one another to communicate their feelings. None of this strikes me as entailing an ascending evolutionary slope from worse to better. So the key thing in your comment is ' ... whether we see this as advance or change ...' I think you see the change as an advance. I don't think I do.

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  5. Well, as usual my caveat is that "it's a bit more complicated than that". I'm not averse to a certain amount of po-mo chin stroking myself; but in the end I'm with Kafka and his ice axe - I do think that art succeeds best to the extent it manages to make us *feel* something. And more naturalistic forms - generally speaking - seem to me to aid this, and more artificial, stylised ones to impede it. In this connection, I think it's also important to differentiate between stylisation that arises because of limitations and stylisation for its own artistic sake. The comment on video game health packs is an interesting one, because in itself it refers to a fairly primitive dynamic originating in a fairly primitive developmental stage in gaming; I've been playing a much more modern game recently - Mad Max - and here the health pack *concept* survives, but in a far more sophisticated and naturalistic/immersive form - health is replenished by the act of drinking from a water canteen which in turn you have to replenish as it empties, from water sources which are scarce and often difficult to find. These things root you in the experiential world of the game - as health packs in older games also tried to do, of course, but much less well. But the - relative - artificiality is a function of the limits on previous software, not a choice based on the philosophical acknowledgement of artifice in art. Similarly, if Lang were making Metropolis today, he'd avail himself of current technology (like sound!) and doubtless produce a far more naturalistic movie as a result, one your students would be a lot less resistant to digesting. None of that invalidates the original movie, but I do think it argues convincingly that an increasing ability to mimic reality for artistic purposes is an advance rather than just a change.

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  6. ps - not sure that superhero movies are the "dominant cinema" of the 21st century; at least, not unless West End musicals are the dominant form of 21st (and late 20th) century drama........

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  7. Superhero films is too narrow a category: but taking all the top twenty grossing films of all time, from Force Awakens Avatar and Jurassic Park down past Avengers movies and Harry Potter movies and Tolkien movies and Batman movies -- every single one -- there's not a naturalistic form' amongst them. Our culture is not interested in naturalism: it is interested in particular modes of artificiality and stylisation that are so deeply embedded and so ubiquitous that many people have lost sight of the fact that they are conventions. Game of Thrones is not more naturalistic than Lord of the Rings, Mad Max Fury Road is not more naturalistic than Cars 2; all these films are stylised according to the logic of different artifices. Nature doesn't enter into it. We don't want realism; although, for some odd reason, we do seem to want escapist Fantasy (either bright or dark) that foregrounds conventional markers of 'realism' like shaky-cam, lens flare, bloodspatters and so on. None of these things are real, though; and not just because they are 'in a movie'. Sam Peckinpah's exploding blood bags is a cinematic convention, in the same way that John Wayne's victims clutching their bloodless chests and falling over is a cinematic convention.

    For myself, I do think there's some merit in being up-front about one's investments in generic and modal conventions; so that for me picking up boxes marked with a red-cross and seeing my health bar increase has an honesty to it, where drinking a bottle and refilling it (and seeing one's health-bar increase) falls into the uncanny valley between playing a game and actual life. But of course that taste of mine is also at bottom an arbitrary preference.

    As for the idea that Lang would have used sound; I'm really not convinced. It's like saying Hitchcock would have made Psycho in colour, with 3-D and surroundsound, if he'd been making it today. Except that he wouldn't (indeed when Gus van Sant remade Psycho shot for shot, in colour, it was lame and pointless). The original Psycho could have been made as a colour film in the 1960s; but Hitchcock uses he limitations of his deliberately retro styling to great effect in that picture.

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  8. That's a bit too harshly iconoclastic for me - sure, all fiction is, by definition artificial, and the big bucks Hollywood crowd-pleasers you're referencing here come from a place so template-ridden that it can sometimes seem utterly stylised. But I think that misses closer-focus issues of texture and technique. However artificial the Lord of the Rings movies might be, there is no question that the level of acting intensity delivered by - for example - Viggo Mortensen embeds us in the human drama to a far greater extent than anything available to movie audiences fifty years ago. Better acting technique, better special effects, better make-up, better cameras - all these improve the extent to which we can get closer to an approximation of, for want of a better phrase, human truth; and more importantly, those things feed into a virtuous circle where we are better able to consider those human truths and how we portray them. Saving Private Ryan is a better and more honest war movie than A Walk In the Sun, Fury is better and more honest still. The revisionist westerns of the seventies are - on average - better human approximations than the Waynesque horse operas of the fifties; something like Unforgiven is better still. You *can* argue against the use of "naturalistic" or "realistic" as terms to describe what's going on here, but if you do you're going to need to invent a whole new term to cover your phrase "conventional markers of 'realism"", and that strikes me as trying to re-invent the wheel.

    You'll notice I've stayed away from actual superhero movies so far, because yes, I do feel they are monstrously artificial - how could any form concerned principally with heroes who wear masks and costumes ever come close to any human truths? And it's safe to say the core audience for this stuff either couldn't care less about how "naturalistic" their entertainment is, or have simply confused facile conceptions of "gritty" and "dark" with the more complicated "realistic". But interestingly enough, I'd say that these movies are actually the direct inheritors of the tradition to which "Metropolis" belongs - it too was super stylised in both its assumptions and its exposition. Perhaps if Lang was working today, that's what he'd be doing - making the next Batman movie.....

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  9. We may be reaching agree to disagree territory, old friend.

    Much as I like Mortensen (and I really do), the idea that he's a better film actor than Brando, or Henry Fonda, or James Stewart, baffles me. Otherwise I'm afraid I'm not articulating my point very well: getting at 'human truth' is, I agree with you, precisely the point: but more stylised and formally artificial modes of art are very often better than 'realistic' modes when it comes to getting at this. 'Jessie's Song' in Toy Story 2 moves me very much, and that whole movie is intensely, and hilariously, anti-naturalistic.

    I don't think I'm making an iconoclastic point. Your examples 'Saving Private Ryan is a better and more honest war movie than A Walk In the Sun ... The revisionist westerns of the seventies are better human approximations than the Waynesque horse operas of the fifties' suggest that one thing you value, unsurprising perhaps give the powerful and eloquent ways you use violence in your own fiction, is that the later texts are more explicit about representing violence than the earlier ones. That has a variety of dramatic advantages, I think, but I don’t think it’s, you know, true, according to the criteria of ‘human truth’. If we want to say that art which has a duty to truth needs to stress that war is hell, rather than being a romantic idealisation of noble combat, then I wouldn’t disagree; but I think a film like Kubrick’s unexplicit Paths of Glory does a better job of that than the romantic quest and fairy tale ending of Private Ryan, however garlanded the latter is with blood-bag-bursting and grime. I don’t have a problem with 21st-centry art being more brutal and more violent, by and large, than 20th-century art: as I say, some interesting and some powerful (and many more crude and exploitative) things can be achieved by artists working with violence. But in the larger sense, it is mendacious. It’s mendacious because, as Steven Pinker’s Better Angels book argues so compellingly, life today is orders of magnitude less violent than it has ever been before, in the whole run of human history. Which means whilst I think we can justify violence in art, I don’t think we can justify it on the grounds that it is more true to life. I was going to type out a thing here about the difference between Roger Moore’s Bond and Daniel Craig’s, but then it occurred to me that I was just retyping the opening paragraphs to this old blogpost about Burgess’s 1965 spy-thriller Tremor of Intent:

    http://anthonyburgessblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-names-burge-tone-burge-tremor-of.html

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  10. Also, since I mention it, here's my take on Pinker's book:

    http://amechanicalart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/steve-pinker-better-angels-of-our.html

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  11. Enjoyed this exchange and I'd never read your post on Pinker, though I suspected you'd read it when I was listening to the discussion on dystopias in Derby. There are lots of blasts at Pinker on this (I'm not a fan obvs - old, if disillusioned, Trot that I am, and I've only read parts of this book) - on his methodology and his obvious ideological propensities. Offhand I remember this: http://www.globalresearch.ca/reality-denial-apologetics-for-western-imperial-violence/32066. Deep into Sarah Helm's If This is a Woman, which is taking up all my mental and emotional capacity. More thoughts when I'm done with that.

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  13. Gareth: thanks for the globalresearch link -- an interesting, but not a wholly convincing, piece. I'd read a number of hostile accounts of Pinker's book before I read it (and, I suspect like you, I've little time for Pinker himself, and his various views); but actually reading his book was something of an eye-opener. His thesis violates our gut instinct, and its possible to do what that linked critique does and mention lots of fundmanetally anecdata by way of counterexample, 'he says we're more peaceful, but what about the Vietnam War, eh?' and so on. The strength of the book is the statistical solidity with which he demonstrates not that there is no violence nowadays, since obviously there's still loads, but that there was so very much more in all the centuries that have gone before. Maybe this is of only glancing relevance to this post, except I would suggest that the most violent areas in the world, (places suffering the long fallout from older and more recent colonialisation and decolonialisation mostly) are not the places where there is the greatest appetite for hardcore ultraviolent fantasy entertainment like GoT, Tarantino Westerns, Saw, Hostel and the like. Those sorts of texts, surely, are aimed at safe and comfortable Western audience, who want on some level to compensate for the placidity of their lives with a bit of the old ultraviolence.

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  14. Not so much that Mortensen is *better* than Brando et al, just that the norms and expectations of the acting craft have intensified so much over time, and in the direction of more naturalistic impact. I remember seeing Paul Newman interviewed around the time of Road To Perdition (2002) or maybe Twilight (1998); he was asked which of his heyday movie performances he was most proud of and he said, more or less, that with the benefit of hindsight they *all* looked pretty hammy compared to what was being done these days. It's this constant upping of the ante that I mean when I say that the craft of cinema has come on so far and so fast that it's hard for people to go back - especially as far back as a 1927 German expressionist silent movie!

    As regards Jessie's Song, I think you're cheating a bit there - it is a song and a set piece, and not really typical of the substance of Toy Story 2 as a whole. Similarly, I have been known to tear up during various arias in the handful of operas I've sat through, but found myself bored rigid at a lot of other points in the performance. Music and song are, I think, an art apart. Interestingly, by contrast, I also teared up in the garbage fire finale of Toy Story 3 - and I'd argue that what moved me there was the awful sense of realism graven into that scene.

    It's true that most of the examples I've reached for above have had to do with portrayals of violence (my tastes mean that they are often the most convenient examples to hand), but this issue of waxing naturalism/realism in cinema is certainly not confined these areas - think, for example, of Tom Cruise's electrifying bedside breakdown scene in Magnolia or Brenda Blethyn weeping and trying to hold up her sagging breasts in the mirror in Secrets and Lies. Both performances hammer home a reacquaintance with our own desperation and humanity at levels of intimacy and intensity I find it impossible to find a match for in any pre-70s cinema I've seen. I'm no film historian, so I can't be sure, but I think that's because such intense and intimate realism simply wasn't on the menu back then - it's simply evolved along with all the other technique and like a series of locking ratchets, stops us from going back to more stylised (I'd say wooden) iterations.

    On Pinker, you'll get no argument from me - I rate Better Angels very highly indeed; but I think the levels of (honest) engagement with violence in our contemporary entertainment are a significant and symbiotic part of the evolving path away from violent social norms that Pinker's book charts. We have this kind of art because our societies are changing, and our societies are changing, at least in part, because we put out this kind of art.

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  15. ps - if you liked Better Angels, but don't have much time for Pinker himself, you really owe it to yourself to read The Blank Slate. As with Better Angels, you're going to find that a lot of what he has to say has been wilfully misrepresented by pundits with political agenda issues. He's had a thoroughly undeserved bad press, especially in left-liberal circles where people really should know better how to behave.

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  16. Richard: I think we're closer than I first realised over much of this. You're right, Jessie's Song is a cheat; although like you my heart was racing during the waste disposal furnace scene at the end of Toy Story 3. And I still resist the idea that there is a 'science'-like progression in the arts (indeed, I wonder if thinking that there has been is in part the cultural bleed through of science as a value in society more broadly). There clearly is an elevator of progress in science, such that millions of schoolchildren today simply know more about physics, chemistry and so on than did Aristotle, Galileo and Newton. But I don't see that the same applies in the arts. Homer and Horace are better poets than Don Paterson and Jo Shapcott; Shakespeare is a better playwright than Harold Pinter; Laurel and Hardy are funnier than Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson; Jane Austen is a better novelist than Zadie Smith. Not that the latter partners in these comparisons are bad at what they do: in every case I'd say they're very good. But Art does work the way Science does, with practitioners building upon the groundwork of predecessors in the same way.

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  17. I very much take your point, by the way, on Pinker and will dig out a copy of Blank Slate. Reading Better Angels was a real case of challenging and then completely upending my preconceptions.

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  18. "But Art does work the way Science does" --> "But Art does not work the way Science does ..." Grrr

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