Becoming more cultured?

Locked
Odysseus
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:51 pm

Becoming more cultured?

Post by Odysseus » Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:45 pm

I've been thinking over the past week or so about just how one manages to distinguish oneself from others in terms of culture or, for want of a less arrogant word, sophistication.

I'm only fairly young at the minute, 18 in just over a month, probably even too young to warrant using the pronoun "one" in common conversation :wink: , but my taste for classical music and interest in philosophy amongst other things has led me to wonder what other similar "cultured" interests I might be able to pursue.

There's a great sense of satisfaction gained from listening to a movement of Beethoven or Schubert or reading a chapter of Dostoevsky or Shakespeare that simply cannot be found anywhere else and that is (at best) ignored in modern society.

Instead we are encouraged to buy the latest clothes, watch the latest TV soap or go to the latest club/bar. This can be nice in doses; some times it's necessary to just kick back, relax and do nothing. However, the trouble is that in modern society, relaxing is now synonymous with doing nothing, leaving the brain to just become less and less active over time, or letting others do the thinking and entertain us.

We have become a society revolved around the id. Instant satisfaction is all that's necessary to pass as entertainment. Half of the time it need not even be good quality, so long as it consumes time: as shown by the amount of viewers counted by Big Brother. Not to mention the fact that (certainly in the UK) asking most people of my generation what Big Brother is will evoke a response referencing the TV program rather than Orwell 9 times out of 10.

Any cravings for food are indulged not by tasteful choices or adventurous cuisine, but by fast food: the faster and cheaper, the better. Any cravings for music are indulged by mindless, conveyor-belt, off-the-shelf "ganster rappers" with more attitude than brains. Not to mention the lack of any rhythm OR blues in today's R'n'B. Cravings for literature (rare as they seem to be now) are fed by magazines, or for the more adventurous reader; a "smash-hit" box-office novel that pleases at face value (shown by the success of Dan Brown, though not to insult his literary skills - he's just a prime example of what appeals to the modern market). Even alcohol has been bastardised by modern culture: the main objective now being to drink the largest quantity of the strongest liquids in the shortest amount of time. Appreciation of finer tastes is discouraged, and now alcohol that tastes just like juice is fired off the production line to enable those without the palate for alcohol to get innebriated along with everyone else.

So what's left for those who wish to depart from the somewhat squalid state of modern society?

I have my passion for classical music, a keen interest in philosophy, a love of single malt whiskey and fortified wines, an ever-growing appreciation of the english language and a select taste in films.

If there are any anyone would like to suggest I'm all ears, and if anyone can suggest any literature, alcohol, theater, music, food or films that belong on a "must -verb- list" then I'd love to hear it.

I have a half term over this next week, and I'd rather spend it with a good book or watching a good play than hammered for half of it and hungover for the next :D

Many thanks if you've managed to read through this lengthy rant :)
--Odysseus

Werner
CMG's Elder Statesman
Posts: 4223
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 9:23 pm
Location: Irvington, NY

Post by Werner » Fri Feb 09, 2007 4:11 pm

It may surprise you, Odysseus, that I have no advice to give you. You seem to be doing a good job of doing your own thinking, and coming up with a number of trains of thought that will be worth pursuing until you discover that one (or several) of these will be the oneI(s) to focus on (except, perhaps, the single malt whiskey.)

While you're on your way, do let us know what you find of particular interest or would like to discuss. This board has a number of people who can discuss assorted items. They're good company.
Werner Isler

living_stradivarius
Posts: 6633
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:41 pm
Location: California
Contact:

Post by living_stradivarius » Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:03 pm

Remember Ulysses, a struggle for "sophistication" should not devolve into self-infatuation. While intoxication via The Bacchae could be placed above intoxication via beer in terms of pleasure, the end result is no different. I am sure your non-leisure activities will remind you of what really matters.

You sound like a friend of mine in England, except he's a septuagenarian.
Ever think of studying at Oxford or Cambridge?

Now go watch "The History Boys."
Image

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26449
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Becoming more cultured?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:47 pm

Odysseus wrote:I've been thinking over the past week or so about just how one manages to distinguish oneself from others in terms of culture or, for want of a less arrogant word, sophistication.
First, welcome to the board. Now, be careful what you wish for. :wink:

[/quote]

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Gary
Posts: 1802
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:16 am
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Becoming more cultured?

Post by Gary » Fri Feb 09, 2007 7:19 pm

Odysseus wrote: wonder what other similar "cultured" interests I might be able to pursue.
Go see a ballet!

Opus132
Posts: 317
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:42 am

Post by Opus132 » Fri Feb 09, 2007 7:56 pm

A few things you need to keep in mind:

1) High culture has been hijacked by feminized liberal wussies brainwashed by political correctness and softened by economic surplus and academic standing into intellectual atrophy and elitistophobia. You'll are also going to find a lot of cultural self-loathing and anti-western ideology. You've been warned...

2) The masses are stupid. It follows that the crap they go after is also dumb. Do not fold under the pressure of anti-elitism. Your journey is one of self improvement, it's not your job to make others feel good about themselves by lowering to their level.

3) High culture is by definition challenging. If something seems to be confusing and hard to grasp, you are most likely the problem. Don't be an arrogant member and think you know it all. Accept the fact you are an ignorant fool and keep making an effort to accumulate knowledge and understanding.

I hope i didn't miss anything... :lol:

keaggy220
Posts: 4721
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:42 pm
Location: Washington DC Area

Post by keaggy220 » Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:16 pm

Opus132 wrote:A few things you need to keep in mind:

1) High culture has been hijacked by feminized liberal wussies brainwashed by political correctness and softened by economic surplus and academic standing into intellectual atrophy and elitistophobia. You'll are also going to find a lot of cultural self-loathing and anti-western ideology. You've been warned...

2) The masses are stupid. It follows that the crap they go after is also dumb. Do not fold under the pressure of anti-elitism. Your journey is one of self improvement, it's not your job to make others feel good about themselves by lowering to their level.

3) High culture is by definition challenging. If something seems to be confusing and hard to grasp, you are most likely the problem. Don't be an arrogant p***k and think you know it all. Accept the fact you are an ignorant fool and keep making an effort to accumulate knowledge and understanding.

I hope i didn't miss anything... :lol:
I love it! I always remind myself of your #3 - espeically when your #2 is on my mind.

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:16 pm

I think what you could use is some really superb humor.

I don't know if you've read much Mark Twain, but if not, I suggest "Innocents Abroad", "Roughing It" or any collection of his humorous sketches and essays. If you have a bent for the biting, Twain's collection "The Damned Human race" is great.

Also, if you want a fabulous taste of mid-20th century sophisticated American humor, go with some Thurber.

Have fun,
Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

Agnes Selby
Author of Constanze Mozart's biography
Posts: 5568
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:27 am
Location: Australia

Culture

Post by Agnes Selby » Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:02 pm

Good advice, Teresa.

Dear Young Friend, I note that humour
does not appear on your cultural agenda. Yet the great men of today and
of times past viewed life with a sense of humour. Churchill would
have lost World War II without it. Mark Anthony fell on his sword because
he was an humourless, self-absorbed man. Shakespeare is as modern today as he was in his day because of his sense of humour. Perhaps you should put humour on your study list. Ultimately it will make your life easier to bear and you will be a more special person to know.

Regards,
Agnes.

Odysseus
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:51 pm

Post by Odysseus » Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:52 am

:D

thanks for all of the hasty replies

Yes, I did omit humour, though not intentionally. I most probably left it out because I already spend a lot of my spare time either watching stand-up, sketch shows, sit-coms etc... or just polishing my own humour :)

Although I must say that my choice of humour probably isn't the most cultured available - hence it being left off the list also.

I think that humour is essential, but sometimes if you try to elevate it to a higher level it can end up being lost. I have to say that Family Guy is one of m favourite shows at the minute, and some of the references are impeccable if you have good general knowledge.

I'm all ears on any more "cultured" comedy, if such a thing is really necessary. Just to give you an idea of my taste, I'm a big fan of Family Guy (as I said), Ross Noble, Demetri Martin (I would highly reccomend him if you haven't heard of him. YouTube his name and there are some good videos to try before you buy so to speak), Pablo Francisco, Scrubs, Mitchell and Webb, Russell Brand (in doses), Frasier, Spin City... &c....

Also, thanks to Opus for the three pointers :D I'll try to keep them in mind.
--Odysseus

Intergamer

Re: Becoming more cultured?

Post by Intergamer » Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:58 am

Odysseus wrote:I have my passion for classical music and a love of single malt whiskey
I too love classical music and Glenfiddich 18 year old single malt whisky. :D

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:51 am

Odysseus wrote::D
I think that humour is essential, but sometimes if you try to elevate it to a higher level it can end up being lost.
I'm all ears on any more "cultured" comedy, if such a thing is really necessary.
--Odysseus
I don't know that any particular type of humor is "necessary" as compared to any other, but the ability to find humor in situations and laugh at yourself is!

There isn't anything "elevated" about the humor of Twain or Thurber. The remarkable quality is their very lack of straining to achieve hilarity. (In fact, both writers lost this to some extent as they became older and more bitter. )

By "sophisticated," I mean if you are more knowledgeable in general of what was going on in that day, you as the reader "get" all sorts of stuff you wouldn't otherwise. Thurber was fabulous at lampooning the pseudo-sophisticated social mores of his contemporaries.

Anyway, as I said, have fun!
Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:59 am

To be sophisticated is simply to be curious, open to that which is new and unhesitant to reject that which on examination lacks any discernible worthiness. It's that simple. :)
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26449
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:00 am

Teresa B wrote:By "sophisticated," I mean if you are more knowledgeable in general of what was going on in that day, you as the reader "get" all sorts of stuff you wouldn't otherwise.
Oh dear. Does this mean that to keep up I have to learn all the stuff in the pop culture categories of Jeopardy?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:36 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Teresa B wrote:By "sophisticated," I mean if you are more knowledgeable in general of what was going on in that day, you as the reader "get" all sorts of stuff you wouldn't otherwise.
Oh dear. Does this mean that to keep up I have to learn all the stuff in the pop culture categories of Jeopardy?
Nah, you qualify if you can merely run the category in areas such as "Kings Named Haakon" or "Before-and-After Rhyme Time."

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Sat Feb 10, 2007 9:04 am

One of my tests is to drop the word "satrap" into a discussion about our leaders and see if the listener seems befuddled. No understand-no sophisticate.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Odysseus
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:51 pm

Post by Odysseus » Sat Feb 10, 2007 9:22 am

Ralph wrote:One of my tests is to drop the word "satrap" into a discussion about our leaders and see if the listener seems befuddled. No understand-no sophisticate.
:lol:

I find that dropping a latin phrase in here or there tends to throw most people off a little. Nobody seemed to appreciate my "in vino veritas" remark at my friend's 18th when most were drunk to celebrate and making ridiculous remarks :lol: (UK resident)

Also, I am registered on a theology/philosophy board under the name Valtam, and safe to say that surprisingly few people have 'got' the reference
:roll:

Opus132
Posts: 317
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:42 am

Post by Opus132 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:35 am

Careful not to fall on the trappings of over complicated language.

Sophistication is the result of the accumulation of ideas. It's implied then clarity of communication is essential.

Orwell to the rescue:

http://www.ourcivilisation.com/decline/orwell1.htm

living_stradivarius
Posts: 6633
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:41 pm
Location: California
Contact:

Post by living_stradivarius » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:01 pm

Ralph wrote:One of my tests is to drop the word "satrap" into a discussion about our leaders and see if the listener seems befuddled. No understand-no sophisticate.
You're not the only who has done that... I'm beginning to believe there is a trend of academic favoritism for the word "satrap."
Image

living_stradivarius
Posts: 6633
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:41 pm
Location: California
Contact:

Post by living_stradivarius » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:04 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Teresa B wrote:By "sophisticated," I mean if you are more knowledgeable in general of what was going on in that day, you as the reader "get" all sorts of stuff you wouldn't otherwise.
Oh dear. Does this mean that to keep up I have to learn all the stuff in the pop culture categories of Jeopardy?
The more parallels you can draw between the classical and the contemporary, the more sophisticated you will be.
Image

RebLem
Posts: 9035
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Post by RebLem » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:52 pm

Three recommendations, Odysseus:

1. It looks like you want to be a serious intellectual. To that end, I recommend as urgent reading a book called The House of Intellect by Jacques Barzun.

2. Someone mentioned Mark Twain. I would specifically recommend a long short story called An Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. It has what in my opinion is the greatest first line in all the literature of the English language: "Well, after I'd been dead about 40 years, I began to get a little anxious."

3. For intellectual humor, grab unto all the albums you can find by soprano/commedienne Anna Russell, expecially the twofer that has her description of The Ring of the Nibelungs.

And, welcome to our little group here, and good luck !
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26449
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:10 pm

living_stradivarius wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Teresa B wrote:By "sophisticated," I mean if you are more knowledgeable in general of what was going on in that day, you as the reader "get" all sorts of stuff you wouldn't otherwise.
Oh dear. Does this mean that to keep up I have to learn all the stuff in the pop culture categories of Jeopardy?
The more parallels you can draw between the classical and the contemporary, the more sophisticated you will be.
Yes, I noticed the teens on Jeopardy this week doing that all the time with RPGs, text messages, etc. :roll: (At least I know what an RPG and text message are.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26449
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:18 pm

Odysseus wrote: Also, I am registered on a theology/philosophy board under the name Valtam, and safe to say that surprisingly few people have 'got' the reference
:roll:
I had to look that up myself. I was afraid I had missed some irregular Latin verb valto, valtare, valsi, valsus and that your name meant "I will waltz." :)

(To save everybody else the trouble, it is an alternative name of the Norse god Odin.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lmpower
Posts: 877
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 2:18 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Post by lmpower » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:33 pm

Odysseus, you are a man after my own heart. You seem to be off to an excellent start. Don't forget paintings as a part of the cultured life. I personally prefer Renoir among the moderns and Rembrandt among the old masters.

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:43 pm

jbuck919 wrote: (To save everybody else the trouble, it is an alternative name of the Norse god Odin.)
I knew that. :wink:
Teresa
Last edited by Teresa B on Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26449
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:52 pm

Teresa B wrote:[quote="jbuck919
(To save everybody else the trouble, it is an alternative name of the Norse god Odin.)
I knew that. :wink:
Teresa[/quote]

Yes, but do you know the Latin verb for "to waltz"? (wink right back)

(The Vatican mantains a dictionary of neo-Latin which it updates every year, and though I don't know what it is, there is certainly such a verb, or word combination to express the idea.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:07 am

I notice cigars are not mentioned (when Fidel went to hospital I immediately purchased a box of Cohiba Robustos. When you guys lift the trade embargo, there go my Cohibas) and are one of the great pleasures to enjoy with cognac.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26449
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:54 am

Brendan wrote:I notice cigars are not mentioned (when Fidel went to hospital I immediately purchased a box of Cohiba Robustos. When you guys lift the trade embargo, there go my Cohibas) and are one of the great pleasures to enjoy with cognac.
Real Americans don't drink cognac, either, and not because of an embargo. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests