Monday, December 21, 2015

Arts Reflect the Times

The arts present the mood of the time. Renaissance painting, sculpture and literature reflected the development of thought from that of the Middle Ages. New things, new ideas were in the air. So said the arts. Scientific discoveries influenced seventeenth century writers. The age of romanticism with its narcissistic self-absorption was a reaction to excessive devotion to reason evident in the terror of the French Revolution.

For years, I have added to my scrapbooks numerous copies of Dilbert, the comic strip by Scott Adams. Years back, they consisted of harmless mocking of human nature in the workplace. They described poignantly the interplay among time-serving, error-prone employees and their attitude towards muddled management. Much humour, some truth.

Slowly, the content of the comic strip changed. The message became an exposé of corporate greed and legal dishonesty. Increasingly, acts of deception, and the word "lies" appeared to describe what once was mere company gibberish. The protagonist now speaks of societal breakdown and the disappearance of respect for the rule of law. Despite the humourous mode of the message, does that describe the state of today's civilization?

Even when allowing for the mushiness of history, we note the strong connection between the arts and the era of their creation.

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