Creativity in the Digital Age

Lauren Conrad, who is a reality tv show person, recently put out her second book and it has hit the best seller list already. I was reading some comments about how sad it is that there are real writers out there who are struggling to get published but her publishers are pushing her crappy writing just because they know it will sell. On the one hand there seems to be nothing wrong with that. It is their job, after all, to make money. But on the other hand, the stuff that she is writing further promotes this culture that is obsessed with fame, glory, etc. Her target audience is impressionable, young girls. People say that some values are learned through literature and these books are showing an ugly part of our society…

Maybe (probably) it doesn’t matter that there are lots of crappy books out there. There always have been, but my bigger concern is, are we slowly losing the culture that would cultivate good artists? There has long been a theory that the novel is dying. While Harry Potter and Twilight may make for some easy reading, are they actually literature? Will cheap fluff like reality television inevitable take over literature as well? When I read the autobiographies of great artists, I am shocked by how many other familiar names show up in their circles. Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to drink together. Anais Nin and Henry Miller were lovers and she studied under Sigmund Freud. George Eliot, Herbert Spencer and Ralph Waldo Emerson were friends. On and on and on. Do these literary circles exist in the world right now? Will we only know about them far in the future?

What are some of your favorite contemporary writers? Do you think that the novel is dying? In a world where we can access anything and everything through a simple little notebook, what purpose do books serve? In a world where we are distracted by endless television, movies and ‘social networking’ sites, how does creativity suffer? Can anything of artistic value be born in such superficial and narcissistic times? Or were they always such times??

I know those are a lot of questions but I would really like to hear your opinions and feedback.

sumeera

2 comments

  1. yes i agree good art/music/literature has declined in recent times
    but i disagree that great artists and writers don't exist today, it is probably more a matter of values and what the mainstream wants

    in old times, the main modes of pleasure and entertainment were limited to traveling or reading; i would even dare to say that there were more intellectual people back then, than now…as in they were looking to discuss books and poetry on a wider scale than our society

    now people are impatient, don't make time to read, and there are so many other modes of entertainment that probably caused the shift in what's being put out these days… since the tween market is so huge, publishers probably seek out authors that will write "fluff" books as you put it
    but i think more quality art is happening in smaller circles and local levels…i wish that would change though. do you know how long it has been since i heard music that wasn't crap? actually, even i can't put a time frame on that. sigh.
    sorry if i repeated most of what you already said 😉
    ~Rabia

  2. Yes those people are out there and they do work together. You just have to find them.

    Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi – Columbia University.

    Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Raj Patel, Jeremy Scahill – authors and reporters who frequently work together and cite each other.

    On the literary front I've noticed there are writers with my background who are part of growing movements – there are more books about Muslims by Muslims, and same with South Asians, especially South Asian women. Some of these works are good, some of them aren't, but I wouldn't be surprised if the more notable writers are studied further down the line.

    There are circles out there of authors and writer-activists who are producing amazing and critical contemporary work. Plus there is a lot of great writing present in the independent media circles.

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