Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 8, 2012

Has mankind’s creativity stalled out?


But the loudness issue might be overlooked if the quality of the music was keeping pace with the rising volume. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The researchers found shrinking variability between note combinations and transitions; meaning that chords and melodies have diminished in the past 50 years. The result is that in the last half-century music (and, if I may say, political discourse) has grown louder while losing the value of its content.

People who limit their musical interests to modern pop are being assaulted with higher volumes while at the same time being lulled by blander content. This might be dismissed as nothing more than a curious manifestation of modern taste. But there are indications that evaporating creativity is not limited to the music world.

So far, there’s no scientific research to back me up on this, but my observations tell me there are corresponding evaporations in the quality of books and entertainment.

At writers’ conferences and book festivals I attend around the country, industry representatives say the publishing world is increasingly committed to formulaic pursuits.

Books by successful authors thrive even if the quality of the content is mediocre. Sequels to successful books thrive even if they are faint shadows of the earlier meritorious work.

These days, almost every important movie coming out of Hollywood falls into one of four categories: (1) it is a remake of an earlier successful film; (2) it is a sequel (or prequel) to an earlier successful film; (3) it is an adaptation from a comic book or video game; or, (4) it is a combination of some or all of the above.

The film industry, like the music business and publishing, appears to be suffering from an inability to tap into new veins of creativity.

The ramping up and dumbing down of popular culture seems to be symptomatic of a larger epidemic. We are witnessing an alarming “sag” in modern creativity. We are cruising along on “well-worn” paths and aren’t comfortable with challenging new popular innovations.

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