Nonbiodegradable Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014-09-21 14:00:00 No comments

Not much time to blog the last couple of days, but I did want to circle back to Wednesday's post, where I touched on how we are creating a world in which nothing is ever really ephemeral or disposable. Culture has become like that garbage patch in the Pacific that never completely goes away, because of the disturbing preponderance of stuff flung into the ocean that doesn't biodegrade.

Just typing out that analogy made me realize that analogies are often deceptive, because they are best used to explain something's existing behavior and not to theorize plausibly about its potential behaviors. Analogies don't have any predictive value. So just saying that some culture doesn't go away because it has too long a shelf life doesn't really say much about what to do about the problem, or how it arises in the first place.

I noted before that there are good reasons not to throw things away. The more we preserve, the easier it is to reconstruct details about a past we didn't ourselves inhabit. But that's scholarly behavior. Fans keep something alive for the sake of keeping it alive; the derogatory way I've put this before is they do it so they can lie down in it and go to sleep.

But again, thinking about the problem this way doesn't suggest solutions or real insight. You can't very well tell people to stop producing so much; who'll listen? The only person you can give such advice to is yourself, and most anyone I know who wants to produce is dead-set on producing all they can before their body betrays them, me included. So perhaps it comes down to nothing more than a kind of personal discipline, something each person has to realize on their own.

Tags: creativity culture