Modern popular culture is not just the latest in a series of diversions. It is rather a culture of diversion.
I had an astonishing glimpse of a quieted (un-diverted) heart this week. An older gentleman brought some tax information to my house. He usually brings his wife with him, but this time he was alone. It was going to take 30-45 minutes to complete the year-end work. I offered him some magazines which he declined. He sat at my table, content, doing nothing for that length of time. He. just. sat. there. He was happy. It was amazing.
The realization of how I would chafe at not having a book with me was a revelation of my own restlessness.
~ ~ ~
The quest for novelty is not simply a search for new distractions; it involves the notion that a new thing will be better than the old one.
The love of novelty is manifest at the singing of the National Anthem at ballgames. Artists are forever trying to give the music a tweak, either in rhythm, note-bending, chord structure or style. We see the same thing with Christmas carols. Sometimes a new approach is fresh and refreshing; many times it is wearisome and freakish.
Curt and I will never forget a faculty music recital we attended. The saxophone player, gifted with skill and brilliance, wooed us during the first half with ballads, smooth riffs, gorgeous tones, melting tunes. The second half he introduced his experimental music which bordered on the obscene. Unnatural hand positions, blowing through the instrument without making any sound alternated with playing the instrument without breathing into it–nihilistic nonsense. It was novelty on steroids.
~ ~ ~
Community, or “the membership”
As industrialized populations became more and more mobile, the ties to family and community became weaker and weaker. The sense that every individual person had a place of belonging within a family or the society of a community was soon lost.
Is the hunger for community hard-wired into our genetic makeup? Immediately after this sentence, Myers says that many people voluntarily give up community and want to lose themselves in a crowd. I have single friends who live in community in our rural part of the world; they are often advised to move to the city, where the possibility of meeting a potential life partner is greater. Is that good or bad advice?
Is it harder or easier to establish community in a urban or rural setting? Does that matter?