Sunday, 24 February 2008

Are superficial experiences really so bad?

Another thought, inspired by the conjunction of McMaster, the cultural offer, and me spending a week away with my family, enjoying ourselves and relaxing without anything approaching a life-changing experience, arts or otherwise...

Noel Coward said it was ‘extraordinary how potent cheap music can be’. Brian McMaster (or his report at least) recommends that ‘cultural organisations stop exploiting the tendency of many audiences to accept a superficial experience and foster a relationship founded on innovative, exciting and challenging work’. He rightly says that ‘An excellent cultural experience goes to the root of living.’

But how much excellence of that sort can a person – especially an impressionable young person –bear? Is it not enough at times to be stimulated, inspired and challenged as well as entertained at a deep level? Is an hour wandering TATE modern not a ‘superficial’ experience for many, no matter how great the art? I don’t think it’s necessarily transformational, or certainly not immediately. Anyway, don't some superficial things sometimes sneak up on you and turn into life-changing experiences?

I want fulfilling arts experiences, and surprise. I want to laugh, dance, think, ponder. I don’t necessarily want my values reorganised every time I go to the theatre or read a book. I don’t think that makes me shallow. Tell me if I’m wrong.


Pete Hindle said...

Well, it's not wrong, per se, but it is wrong to let the superficial be regarded as anything but light entertainment. So, let's not say "visiting the Tate Modern provides a gateway into modern art", but rather a gateway into spending lots of money on coffee and ice cream. With a bit of art on the side.

As a side note, I believe that this blog entry is a really well-written argument that kinda funnels you along from the point to the conclusion. Obviously, all that time filling in ACE forms has some benefit when it comes to argument-forming! But it would be nice to see something a bit more revealing on the blog. Why don't you share some of the 'shallow' experiences you love, and why they are fun?

Are you a secret Eastenders fan? Do you own a Meatloaf album? Do you read the sort of magazines that show 'candid' pictures of stars buying sandwiches? I guess I'd find a discussion of the relative merits of tawdry gossip rags more enlightening than an argument that seems to only supports the status quo.

Mark Robinson said...

Thanks Pete. I think there's a back-handed compliment in there somewhere! Not sure how far to go in exposing my guilty pleasures - may post those seperately.

I'd like to say that an advantage of working for ACE is you don't have to fill in too many forms. I'd like to....

Pete Hindle said...

The compliment is that you are very good at writing, but the best part of 'non-official' blogs is those parts that stray from the party line. Writing about superficial experiences seems like a great point to talk about the fun things in life.

On the other hand, if you post a beat-by-beat breakdown of Bros, I'd be outta here so fast.

Paul Harman said...

If we all had lifechanging experiences every day we would never get any work done.

One man I trust studied the memories people retained of shows they had seen as children - going back as far as twenty years.

People seldom retained words or story themes but mainly emotionally charged gestures, movements and visual effects.

We all see things differently and respond at different intervals. We are all different mixes of intelligences. That's why any cultural offer must be very broad indeed and probably use many different modes of delivery.

Nicky Peacock said...

what do you laugh at?
dance to?
think about?

this could get interesting..

p.s - i think meeting a faceless robot could be exciting (maybe a little scary)

nice to meet you,
nicky peacock