On a Cultural Embarrassment of Riches

the fact that our current age suffers from an embarrassment of riches in terms of culture — broadly defined to include everything from food to sport to literature to tv to architecture, et al — and that it’s literally impossible to consume everything worthwhile remains something that infuriates and confuses me. the most gratifying experience short of sex is watching/reading/eating/listening to something that makes you just appreciate how talented its creator is, and to think to yourself “this is fucking good.” yet the number of cultural artifacts that elicit that response — in my mind at least, and perhaps that’s a function of maturing, but I think fairly objectively true contemporarily — seem to keep growing. It’s simply not possible to fulfill the cultural obligations to which I feel obliged. I haven’t watched Breaking Bad, nor have I read Being and Event, though I feel deeply that I must do both, and I want to. I haven’t listened to Lil Wayne or played Call of Duty. I haven’t tried to cook a soufflé yet. I know jack shit about wine or spirits (beer, on the other hand, I am well-versed in). These are things I need and want to know about, I just don’t know where to find the time. I can barely manage to keep up with literature and politics, my two supposed fields of expertise.

On the one hand, this makes me dizzy with happiness — I feel so privileged to live in this era, have access to so much information, and to know people who care about their interests and pursue them with passion, skill, patience, and a willingness to learn. On the other hand, it can be overwhelming. On days when I let myself read all the blogs I’d like to read, listen to the music I’d like to listen to, watch the shows I need to catch up on, check out the visual art blogs that represent the artists I whose work I most enjoy, stock up on recipes and restaurant fantasies, there’s no time at all to read books, make music, think, write, or cook. It’s a conundrum.
There’s no point to this post, other than observation, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else suffers from the sort of anxiety I do at not being able to experience as much cultural excellence as I’d like/need.
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~ by Benji on 14 July 2011.

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