node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
When books or pictures in reproduction are thrown on the market cheaply and attain huge sales, this does not affect the nature of the objects in question. But their nature is affected when these objects themselves are changed rewritten, condensed, digested, reduced to kitsch in reproduction, or in preparation for the movies. This does not mean that culture spreads to the masses, but that culture is being destroyed in order to yield entertainment.

The result of this is not disintegration but decay, and those who actively promote it are not the Tin Pan Alley composers but a special kind of intellectuals, often well read and well informed, whose sole function is to organize, disseminate, and change cultural objects in order to persuade the masses that Hamlet can be as entertaining as My Fair Lady, and perhaps educational as well. There are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect, but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say.
Meaningful writing has a purpose beyond that of simple entertainment or of generating conversation. Its purpose is to improve society, to improve our life, by teaching us certain truths that the author has learned. John Ruskin puts it well in his essay on books, Of Kings' Treasuries, by saying that good books give us sight. By teaching us what to look for, and the value of those things, we learn to tell apart the good from the bad, to pass better judgements using our sharpened vision. We grow and become wiser. And that is the only sort of writing that ever improves us as people because all the rest, information and entertainment, it just passes by and leaves us in the same state that we are when we first come into contact with it.