I saw this short statement by Mario Vargas Llosa, who is in Stockholm awaiting the award of his Nobel Prize for Literature.
Vargas Llosa, criticized “today’s fast-paced information society, saying it limits peoples’ depth of thinking and is a major problem for culture,” singling out the
the entertainment industry for producing what he called a culture of “banalization, frivolization, and superficiality.”
“I think the audiovisual revolution, which is fantastic from a technological point of view, has introduced the idea that the main goal of culture is entertainment.”
“Of course, culture is also entertainment, but if it is only entertainment, the result is the disappearance of long-range vision and deep preoccupation for basic questions . . . I think it is a major, major problem.”
This came right on top of reading my students’ assignments on the impacts of current consumption patterns. Many of them commented on the lack of depth is relationships, echoing Vargas Llosa. Objects in our lives serve many functions–mediating co-ordination with others, constructing our identities, serve as bridges to our distant ideals. The three characteristics mentioned by Vargas Llosa have little or no power to do anything like this, and function in a way to lower the possibility for sustainability. Changing the culture seems critical, but is excruciatingly difficult.