Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Popular Culture

I haven't listened to much new music for the last few months. I feel the loss but it was a decision, of sorts.

I think I have discussed previously the rule, as it relates to those of us with limited time to engage with cultural activities, of cyclical proficiency.

In case you haven't come across it, the rule suggests that developing knowledge of one area of culture can only be achieved by disregarding some other area temporarily.

Do you have a hierarchy of culture? I think I do, although it has flexibility. I read every day. I make sure I haven't gone to sleep without reading some of a book. Even if it's only a chapter of a pappy thriller before lights out, it is a rule of life for me. No TV or tablet in the bedroom last thing at night.

Secondly there is sport. In particular football and cricket. Not so much live these days but I make sure I keep up with the weekly TV updates.

What else is there? Theatre, cinema, music, art. I love all these things.

So it becomes quite awkward, when I am already lamenting that I haven't been to the cinema for six months or so, when something new and demanding pitches up. Podcasts are it.

I let them pass me by for a while, apart from occasionally catching up with a Radio 4 show I had missed. Then I started noticing reviews of podcast shows in the weekend newspapers. About Easter time this year people were writing and talking about S-Town. Presented by Brian Reed of This American Life (a programme on Chicago public radio that became a podcast once it could) it is a wonderful seven part story that introduces people not normally given air time so positively, heads off in all sorts of strange plot-twist directions and ends with a nice resolution.

It wasn't long before I discovered Serial, another spin-off which goes into an old news story in more detail over a longer period. It hunts for miscarriages of justice, or at least the truth about controversial carriages of justice.

Now I am into twenty two back years of This American Life and I may be gone some time. It is what is on the headphones as I walk about these days, or playing in the car on long journeys. Getting inside the skin of the USA and introducing intelligent, thoughtful stories is a real antidote to the news from Trumpton.

If it's OK, please nobody invent any new culture for a bit. Thank you.

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