Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
Rognvald
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Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:16 pm

Among the readers of this Forum are undoubtedly a group of introspective people who have tasted much that life has to offer and have sought to create for themselves a varied world of human experiences that will continue to shape them until their eventual encounter with the irreversible "big sleep." And, it is exactly these experiences that give human beings depth, character and a seasoning that distinguishes them from their more monolithic contemporaries. However, this creative, curious thirst for knowledge and new experiences seems to be sadly waning today in an age of videos, internet, cell phones, and vicarious human experience. We see it in the decline of the novel with third-rate detective fiction, historical romance novels and "tell all" biographies of the lowest order taking precedence over serious works of fiction; we see it in the visual arts in the paucity of serious artistic expression being replaced by installation art, pop art,and political art (golden toilet "America" displayed at the Guggenheim) and sadly, in Music with uninspired, didactic, and plebian assault on our opera houses, concert halls and once successful Jazz clubs that are foundering for their survival among the clamor for sameness, mediocrity and predictability. An artist without varied human experience is an oxymoron(no pun intended). Are we experiencing the death of the Renaissance Man/Woman? Playing again . . . Rognvald
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CarbonElitist
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by CarbonElitist » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:16 pm

I actually think more and more people are becoming aware of how technology is consuming our lives and how low our standards are becoming. I am seeing a bit of a blowback from my fellow millenials against pop culture. In regards to the deterioration of quality among the things you mentioned such as books and music, it's subjective but I mostly agree with you there. However, quality in other forms of art and storytelling is increasing dramatically. Video games, for example, are becoming serious mediums that deliver quite potent stories (Last of Us come to mind). Television shows such as Breaking Bad and Black Mirror have quite a few philosophical statements to make about evil. There is a lot of deep, intelligent, philosophical art still being created, it's just not found in the same places as the eras you are referring to. There is a problem in our world where people want to live vicariously instead of experiencing life themselves, but I think that has always been a problem. Escapism has been a thing since man could read and write.
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by riffmeister » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:23 pm

Truly curious, thoughtful people still exist. And the world wide web provides them with enormous resesources and tools which did not exist a generation ago. That said, it does certainly seem that these same tools have raised the 'noise floor' in an unprecedented way.

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:22 pm

We think of a Renaissance Man as an enlightened person: in arts, math, athletics, philosophy, music, history, and any other cultural aspect of society. They were exceptional individuals in a time when the masses were unschooled, illiterate, superstitious and dogmatic.

Fast forward to the present: exceptional, enlightened individuals still exist while the masses are higher educated, richer, healthier, more critical and flexible. Modern Renaissance Men are just harder to recognize. They may be CRISPR-Cas scientist during the day and classical guitarist at night.
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Ramon Amira » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:56 am

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:16 pm
We see it in the decline of the novel with third-rate detective fiction, historical romance novels and "tell all" biographies of the lowest order taking precedence over serious works of fiction
Theater too, to which I can attest from my own experience as a playwright. When I was much younger I had two plays produced. But even then it was very difficult to get anywhere as a playwright. The playwright Robert Anderson (Tea and Sympathy) famously said, “You can make a killing in theater but not a living.”

Ten years ago I finished writing a drama I had started way back then, but it was a very serious drama. I sent it to three prominent New York agents, because you cannot get a major New York production without an agent. All three ran out of superlatives praising the script. All three had the same “however” comment: “It isn’t commercial. There’s no audience for serious drama.”

Fifty years ago “serious drama” and “commercial” went hand in hand. So I acquiesced to the reality, and am now finishing up a musical. Rognvald’s incisive observation is undeniable.

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bear
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by bear » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:16 am

I was at the funeral.
I was in college in the 60's and part of one of my courses was on the "Psychology of Advertising". The crux of it was that successful advertisers geared their message so that a 14 year old could understand it. That was before technology allowed us to abdicate thinking.
I was at a house party recently and there were several high school seniors discussing colleges that they had visited. They were all educated K-12 in very costly private schools. One of them has visited Georgetown and was very surprised that Washington D.C. was not in the state of Washington. The others were shocked at this revelation.
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CarbonElitist
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by CarbonElitist » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:20 am

bear wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:16 am
I was at the funeral.
I was in college in the 60's and part of one of my courses was on the "Psychology of Advertising". The crux of it was that successful advertisers geared their message so that a 14 year old could understand it. That was before technology allowed us to abdicate thinking.
I was at a house party recently and there were several high school seniors discussing colleges that they had visited. They were all educated K-12 in very costly private schools. One of them has visited Georgetown and was very surprised that Washington D.C. was not in the state of Washington. The others were shocked at this revelation.
I'm not going to post it here, but go on youtube and search for "end women's suffrage". Then pick the result on Bethany Winsor's channel.
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bear
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by bear » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:21 am

CarbonElitist wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:20 am
bear wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:16 am
I was at the funeral.
I was in college in the 60's and part of one of my courses was on the "Psychology of Advertising". The crux of it was that successful advertisers geared their message so that a 14 year old could understand it. That was before technology allowed us to abdicate thinking.
I was at a house party recently and there were several high school seniors discussing colleges that they had visited. They were all educated K-12 in very costly private schools. One of them has visited Georgetown and was very surprised that Washington D.C. was not in the state of Washington. The others were shocked at this revelation.
I'm not going to post it here, but go on youtube and search for "end women's suffrage". Then pick the result on Bethany Winsor's channel.
We are on the threshold of the new dark ages. I'm glad I'm old.
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by jscott » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:42 am

"Theater too, to which I can attest from my own experience as a playwright."

On the other hand: Angels in America premiered in my small home town, which in fact has become a launching pad for many Broadway productions. There's a half dozen good companies here. Harold Pinter has passed away, but it's not that many years ago. Tom Stoppard is still writing, I think. Theater in London and elsewhere is vigorous.

And so is fiction worldwide. And poetry! I wonder if those who lament the dearth of good art expect it to resemble that produced in the Renaissance. Happily new voices are bringing new songs, and in fact honest art has to emerge from and reflect contemporary circumstances. Sure, there's a ton of junk and garbage as well. As it ever was.

The naturalist Stephen J. Gould wrote a great article on the demise of the .400 hitter in baseball. Where are the giants of baseball's past? He points out that no one averages .400 over a year anymore not because our species has declined in sport, but rather because of the spread of excellence throughout baseball. Most of the players in today's game are far better than those who played when the "Renaissance Batters" of old were playing. Ted Williams faced mostly inferior pitchers and outfielders relative to today's players. Many of today's batters would easily average .400 over the course of a year if they played in those earlier eras.

Sort of similarly, it's become impossible to be a Renaissance Man today because all of our fields of knowledge have expanded wildly since earlier ages. Think of physics, as a single example. Mastering many fields and becoming expert in each is far more difficult today than in earlier ages. We know more now. There's been a spread of excellence.

My guess is that this holds true in classical guitar as well. Where is our Segovia? Segovia played when the level of guitar playing in general was inferior to today's standards. Segovia is Ted Williams.
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Wuuthrad
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:34 am

In fact,

The bar truly has been raised,

and yet even still,

Some cannot see the forest through the trees.




Perhaps the death of Renaissance persons is in fact evidenced herein,

more often than should even warrant any of our careful considerations,

by this tiredly continuous and ubiquitous lack of indentation and paragraph spacing by the tritley self professed

know-much-mores with their oft repetitive self aggrandizements and stodgy snooze festivals...
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:05 pm

Wuuthrad wrote: Perhaps the death of Renaissance persons is in fact evidenced herein,

more often than should even warrant any of our careful considerations,

by this tiredly continuous and ubiquitous lack of indentation and paragraph spacing by the tritley self professed

know-much-mores with their oft repetitive self aggrandizements and stodgy snooze festivals...
Touché Wuuthrad.

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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Rognvald » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:37 pm

"We think of a Renaissance Man as an enlightened person: in arts, math, athletics, philosophy, music, history, and any other cultural aspect of society. They were exceptional individuals in a time when the masses were unschooled, illiterate, superstitious and dogmatic." Erik Zurcher

Erik,
This is, of course, true from a historical perspective but the concept of Renaissance Man did not die in the Renaissance. We who dabble in the dark secrets of "the Arts" are much like the Medieval necromancer who must draw from a vast knowledge of experience--both personal(life experiences) and educational to mix a potent vial of artistry that cannot exist in a vacuum/void of the specialist or dullard. For example, how could one possibly be a novelist without reading many of the great works that Man has proffered over the centuries much as a musician/composer who has not studied the great Music of the past? And, can one truly emote the five senses of Man when he/she has lived in a vacuum for most of their lives when it is exactly the honing of these senses and their artistic expression that makes great art? I often think, by example, of the much-lauded(by some) American poet Emily Dickinson who lived a hermetic life in her family home until her death and, in my opinion, wrote a collection of palsied and superficial poetry admired by so many. By what standards could a poet explain to others the world in which they live and one's ontological connection to the universe with her sole life's experience being her bedroom in the family home? This, of course, is patently absurd and highly illustrates, in my mind, the converse of the Renaissance Man. But, has this concept died, as I believe Eric has suggested or does it illuminate the specialization of energies that are required to be successful, in a mercantile sense, in the 21st Century and the desires of most to "not be left behind?" The death of a Liberal Arts education is the perfect example where our young are encouraged to become "educated" not for enrichening one's life experience and personal knowledge but to be marketable(get a good paying job) after graduation. And, we are producing generations of specialist automatons who can fill the niche of Big Businesses ranks but add to the pool of our amorphous, dullard masses(yes, of course, many "educated" people are dullards!). And, as I have mentioned previously, it is leading to the death of serious Art where the mind-numbing, profane stupidity of television, video games, and Facebook have replaced avenues of creative expression(concert halls, Jazz clubs, poetry readings, and art galleries)to a mere shell of their former selves while pandering to our world of growing, breathing blobs. It is of the highest vanity for one to believe that true, lasting Art can be created in a void or in the minds of essentially superficial people, whether educated formally or not, and it is the demise of the Renaissance Man/Woman in the 21st Century that has not only effected our Art but the social connections we as human beings need for personal growth and enlightenment. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Rasqeo
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by Rasqeo » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:05 pm

The uneducated, ignorant masses breed more quickly than the educated minority so it’s a gap that’s only going to get wider without a huge transformation in our culture, values and education systems. That’s not going to happen any time soon, so we’re doomed essentially.

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bear
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by bear » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:10 pm

I believe it is the purview of old men to bemoan the dilution of all they hold dear by the generations that follow.
I have no idea what you younger folks are doing.
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Re: Death of the Renaissance Man/Woman?

Post by PeteJ » Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:26 pm

Rasqeo wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:05 pm
The uneducated, ignorant masses breed more quickly than the educated minority so it’s a gap that’s only going to get wider without a huge transformation in our culture, values and education systems. That’s not going to happen any time soon, so we’re doomed essentially.
This was the sociological premise behind a 60s BBC science fiction drama called 'The Year of the Sex Olympics'. I watched it at the time and found it the most depressing drama I''d ever watched. It predicted our present society remarkably well and for this reason it will probably never be shown again. A new production would just seem like real life.

But I'm hopeful. It's always darkest before the dawn. I feel the internet is breaking the hold of our academic establishment and letting in a little light.

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