We all know that not much happens in the week between Christmas and the New Year. But less well know is how little has happened culturally in the last twenty years. Indeed, so little has happened in this time (except, of course, for all the all-important caveat of technological change), according to the writer and broadcaster Kurt Andersen, that we are still listening to the same music, watching the same sort of tv shows, wearing the same style of clothing, driving the same kind of cars and living in the same kind of homes as we were in late Eighties.
Andersen describes this as a cultural ice age and suggests that at its root may lie the ever quickening pace and ubiquity of technological change. That’s because, as he told me when we Skyped last week, all our creative energies are going into technological innovation, which might have frozen innovation in all the other cultural sectors of our economy. As the Internet changes everything, Andersen seems to be saying, culture becomes our anchor amidst all the creative destruction wrought by technological innovation.
This is the first part of a two part interview with Andersen. Tomorrow, he talks about Time’s Person of 2011 – The Protester.
KURT ANDERSEN is a writer. He’s the author of the novels Heyday and Turn of the Century. Heyday was a New York Times bestseller that the Los Angeles Times called “a major work.” The New York Times Book Review said there is “something moving, a stirring spirit, in the energy of its amazement.” And the Chicago Sun-Times (and nine other papers) said it “deserves instant acceptance into the ranks [of] Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man, E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, [and] Gore...