Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Discomfort Zone

Apparently, malaise, death and alienation are old-school. In his appreciation of Ingmar Bergman yesterday, Stephen Holden, writes:

“Today the religion of high art that dominated the 1950s and 60s seems increasingly quaint and provincial. The longstanding belief that humans are born with singular psyches and souls is being superseded by an emerging new ideal: the human as technologically perfectible machine. The culture of the soul – of Freud and Marx, and yes, Bergman – has been overtaken by the culture of the body. Biotechnology leads the shaky way into the future, and pseudo-immortality, through cloning, is in sight. Who needs the soul if the self is technologically mutable? For that matter, who needs art?”

Now, that’s depressing.

I hate the idea that soul-searching is a modernist endeavor, a romantic ideal. But, that’s the current consensus. Explorations of the self are usually now labeled “earnest” or “na├»ve.”

The closest thing I’ve seen recently that takes a stab at irresolvable-ness, is the HBO series “Six Feet Under,” which spins around the inevitability of death. But, I don’t feel particularly pushed forward watching the episodes. There’s something about, say, Monica Vitti, or abstract montages that just make me feel more “weighty” as a viewer. But, this might simply be pretentious.

I just prefer devastation to comfort in art. When I read (re: Bergman), “this world is a place where faith is tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory at best,” I just want rip open my netflix and curl up on the couch.

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