Dear reader(s). I realize that you may not make it through this boring post, but I would love to hear your views on what makes great art and whether or not it is still being produced. Stick em in the comments.
I've been thinking about great art recently. Yesterday I was browsing a book on philosophy where the author makes the same point as Charles Murray: no great art has been produced recently. I think that this is ridiculous but at the same time I am reluctant to point to anything recent that I would insist is great, apart from some Beatles stuff. I like lots of stuff but I can't call everything I like great. I'm willing to suggest that Elvis is great, Bob Dylan and a few others who I don't really like myself, but I?m just guessing really.
When I think about this I normally get stuck on what exactly great art is. It seems to me that the cultural backdrop is important in establishing greatness. For example, I don?t think another rock band will ever be greater than the Beatles but I am confident that there have been better rock musicians; I think it is extremely unlikely that another band will be as popular, as innovative and as prolific at the same time while still being a rock band. It must also be more difficult to invent a new genre without appearing totally crazy. Just about any idea you have has likely been had by someone else, there are so many of us.
I recently read about the Flynn effect. Basically, the average IQ of the population has been increasing by about 3 points every ten years and this rate seems to be increasing. The IQ of the top 0.1% isn't increasing though; our actual mental capacity is staying put. Maybe great achievements don't seem as great because the average mind is more capable of absorbing it.
Since there are so many of us around now and we have so much money, free time, education and huge resources, maybe there is simply so much MORE great art. Like the kid in the Incredibles said, "If everybody is special, no-one is". Great stuff is less scarce and so less valuable compared to other things.
Something that I think may have an effect on the amount of greatness is the worship of characters like Beethoven, Bach et al. Time spent playing other people?s music is time not making your own. Also, if that stuff is simply defined as perfect or great then no wonder there isn?t new great or perfect stuff.
Since there are so many different genres, someone who dominates a genre may be likely to be a cult hero rather than great.
Today, we are rich, educated, free and many. I've met plenty of people way more talented than me and way more committed to what they do. They will probably say the same thing about their own experience. This means that there are a lot of supremely bright determined people out there. To suggest that none of them, over the last fifty years has done anything that should be considered great is to believe in some magic power thwarting our best efforts.
Charles Murray thinks that we are an impoverished society (despite our material riches). I think Charles Murray is really weird.