2004/11/02

21st century influences

In my last post, I concluded that art is the representation of the worldview of the day. This was true in earlier times but is not exactly true nowadays anymore. Today, changes are coming on us so fast that there is no clear worldview anymore that we have the time to describe. Our's is a fast evolving worldview under the impact of:

- scientific breakthroughs in all fields of knowledge. But the really important fact here is the interaction between those breakthroughs that lead to a radically new "worldview" about what is reality. In our Christian Western world, we come from a static view of reality in which all human actions were perceived to be oriented in the direction of an absolute good. A world of the straight line with an end in goodness has been our worldview for 2-3000 years of cultural build-up. This model is shaken up today and the tree of this cultural build-up has been uprooted, it lies there lifeless. From whatever field we look at, we observe converging signs sprouting a new understanding of reality. Complexity, evolutionary chains,... being as one moment in a chain of events, it seems as if our reality became more and more to be seen as a process of change with no particular directionality.

- the integration of the Western Christian based cultural build-up with all other cultural build-ups. Modernity, there is no doubt about that, is an outgrowth of the Western Christian cultural buil-up. Today, we assist at the integration of all the other cultural build-ups into modernity. It's "integration or disappearance" as the Chinese correctly understood.
Cultural dominance emerges out of economic dominance. In our modern area, economic dominance followed by cultural and artistic dominance goes from:
- the Italian city States from the early renaissance sprouting out of the European crusaders' contact with the far, far more advanced muslim lands,
- to Bruges (Flanders) establishing itself as the capital of the early wool industry,
- to Antwerp (Flanders) taking over from Bruges that lost its sea port due to silting,
- to Amsterdam taking over from Antwerp that had been burned down by the Spanish inquisition,
- to London taking over from Amsterdam that crumbled under its overdebtedness,
- to New-York taking over from London that had been bankrupted by its 2nd worldwar effort.
Here we are now at the dawn of the 21st century, a world under US economic dominance trying, unwillingly, to digest the US cultural hegemony. But this image is short-sighted, the US population that represents less than 5% of the world population has to contend with China, India, Brazil and other countries that are fast integrating into the worldview of the rationality of capital. Capital and its rationality, science, have indeed become universals that are unifying the populations of the whole world into a real "global village" in instant communication. This being so, we can already see that soon:
- Beijing shall overtake New-York that will crumble under its overdebtedness (result of an illusory imperial vision that the country has not the means to finance). China becomes the biggest economy in GDP terms well before 2050 and it has also the means to become a scientific and technological world leader for the only reason that it will soon churn out more worldclass scientists and engineers from its universities than all the indusrialized countries together. Then, we could see the Chinese cultural build-up become hegemonic. Their newly acquired economic dominance will reinforce their cultural build-up. Let's never forget that, contrarily to the Western Christian worldview, the Chinese worldview is not in contradiction with our " under science" evolving global worldview. The Chinese cultural worldview gives reality as
a process of change with no particular directionality since thousands of years already and this vision has been interiorized in their daily approaches towards medical care, towards diplomacy,... and towards the arts!

In my introduction to this post I stated that
"art is the representation of the worldview of the day. ... Our's is a fast evolving worldview". The 2 parameters of change that I cite (science and globalization) are indicating that worldviews are gradually unifying into one global worldview that will give reality as a process of change. Science and philosophy will finally merge and the traditional Western straight line vision with its outcome in absolute goodness will be eliminated from our coming human global culture.
Do you see the visual implications?

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