As soon as I get to read Steven Pinker’s book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, I’ll give a more complete review. But I wholeheartedly agree with at least two of his points. First is the basic premise that people are born with a ‘first draft’ of their attitude toward life already built in. Secondly, and related to this, is his assessment of the ‘decline of the arts’. It’s bullshit. The arts are alive and well. What is declining is an interest in pedantic pseudo-intellectualism in the arts. We’re getting back to a more grounded artistic sensibility that actually takes into account what people actually like. That seems unsophisticated. Sophistication for its own sake had its heyday. It’s over.
But sophistication can come back. Sophistication now should be about bridging discipline gaps. Instead of intellectual masturbation, (forming connections to yourself) artists need to go study neuroscience and learn how to make people tick. Or make connections to other sciences or history and try to teach people something beautiful in a way that is beautiful. Forge new connections. We all need to bridge Snow’s Two Cultures. This is meaningful. It will give birth to new ideas. It’s intellectual procreation.