Or - Why We Should Get a Clue about Culture Already
You know, for every single individual who actually makes it to Rome to see the coliseum ruins, how many more thousands have been transported THROUGH THEIR MINDS to the days of Julius Caesar, to the Ides of March, to the double-crossing scheming of et tu, Brute? Thanks to our good friend Bill Shakespeare? My mathematical answer is "lots more, thousands more".
While the crumbling leftovers of ancient civilizations remain, it's the words that last, the plays that live, the paintings we covet long after the scenery and reality they depict have fallen away.
Laws and policies may change the course of borders and peace and politics and speeches get logged in museums and history books. But the fabric of the arts that both inspired and were inspired by the times in which they were created are what our souls will ultimately connect with.
Picture this: in the year 2099 mosquitos have spread an ailment across our land and left our cities in crumbling messes, from which they're just beginning to rise from the ashes. Perhaps, in Halifax, Citadel Hill remains, but it's the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald the people of the future sing to entertain themselves and to remember their history. It's Joel Plaskett singing about the Dartmouth ferry that reminds them they once had a close connection to the city across the water - now uncrossable by bridge. We'll remember the province was once so glamorous, such a destination, that some long lost singer gave it a central spot in her song about Mick Jagger (or whoever the F it's about) and vanity.
The walls of our beautiful library will have tumbled, but citizens will hold dear the prized possessions it once held - stories that remind us where we once were. Stories that take us away from mess and reality. Perspectives, clues and context for what happened and why it happened.
Netflix, a ghost from the past, will have sputtered and died and in its place actors will find makeshift stages because our need to entertain and be entertained is endless.
Melodramatic YES NO KIDDING, nobody has accused me of being subtle anytime in my life ever.
"Yes, yes," you say as you write me off as a left wing frustrated writer, "but we need better schools and better health technology and infrastructure that works like roads with no bumps and buses that run on time. Those things come first."
Do they? Do they really? If we don't make time or room for movies and music and theatre and visual art who will come to use our fancy technology? Who will live in our buildings standing next to nothing that inspires them? Who will drive on our roads? Who wants to take a bus down a soulless street with nothing to look at out the window and nothing to experience once you reach your destination? How will our post-apocalyptic ancestor remember us? Know who we were? What we loved? How we felt? What map to the past, the heart of who we were, will they have to follow?
So let us band together to celebrate our writers on red carpets, let's meet in the halls of art galleries to soak up things that make us feel something, let's listen to songs that track what matters, let's watch performers who give their lives to the search for applause and the mission of capturing moments of reality that helps us understand ourselves.
Three cheers for the myth makers, without whom our quests would be aimless, our heroes unsure, our songs full of flat notes.