PHILOSOPHY: food for thought
José Ortega Y Gasset once wrote ‘ the mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select’. The ‘mass’ is all that which sets no value on itself (good or ill) based on specific grounds, but which feels itself “just like everybody,” and nevertheless is not concerned about it; is, in fact, quite happy to feel itself as one with everybody else.* The ‘mass’ rules over all of us and claims authority because of his commonplace mind. But what is commonplace really? What is common sense… is it really that common and does it make that much sense? Not only José Ortega Y Gasset doubts and even disgusts the common, a lot of great minds (Nietzsche, Heidegger,…) see a problem when it comes to the mass man imposing it’s morals, values and truths upon us. Common sense alows us not to think for ourselves, not to have an opinion that’s really our own (although people will always present an opinion as their own, it rarely ever is), not to really get to know ourselves. I’m not going to go into a political debate about how and by who society should be ruled and by no means am I trying to impose a political statement upon any of you. I just wanted to adress the problem of public opinion in relation to cultural things and cultural taste (or taste in general).
For example: when can one say a movie is good? When a well known critic says it’s good? When millions of copies are sold.. or neither? Some of you might think I’m implying the first possibility is correct… you’re wrong! In my opinions something is good when you, yourself, after watching it and contemplating about it (and making sure you’re not letting anyone else influence you when making the judgement) have come to the conclusion it is a good movie. Although I’m not sure how to interpret Woody Allen‘s quote (he might be implying only the so called ‘connaisseurs’ will be able to see he is a genius) but he could be aware that ‘the mass’ won’t be able to see his talent and therefor he won’t sell a lot of copies.. but he’s just happy that some people, who are still able to think for themselves, will like his work.
With this blog post I’m not only adressing the problem of public opinion and mass culture but I’m also questioning a certain counter movement of people (hipsters, pseudo-intellectuals)claiming to be individual and unique when all they’re doing is imposing their own rules of what is and isn’t good on others. These days there even seem to be rules on how not to be like everyone else, you can’t just not be like everyone else in your own way, there now is a common way of not being common! Both phenomena honestly irritate the crap out of me.
So tell me, what’s your opinion on this matter?
*loneliness is a basic human condition, being like everybody else gives you the illusion you are not really alone: other people are just like you, they feel and think and look the same…which creates a sense of togetherness.
* none of these pictures are mine, I found them using tumblr.