Strictly Amateurs Please

For a variety of reasons, I have often wondered what sort of ideal society I would create as a sort of thought experiment to ponder the effects of certain choices within society. When I wrote a recent collection of connected short stories for the last NaNoWriMo, I constructed a society that I had been imagining since my early teenage years at least, and finally put that world and at least some of my thoughts about it, down on paper to be read by others after quite a long period of gestation. One of the notable aspects of these stories was that all of them explored the relationship between the people of this society and a sentient and somewhat intuitive species of dinosaur that they early became linked with. These stories, by necessity, did not include the sort of discussion that would make for a balanced presentation, as there are a great many aspects of the world behind the stories that do not happen to relate to dinosaurs at all. Today I would like to discuss a couple of those aspects as a means of doing a thought experiment with our contemporary world and pondering on some of the results of those choices.

One of the notable aspects of my imaginary nations is that none of them are particularly high on professional entertainers of any kind. Indeed, whole hosts of professions that have a high degree of importance in the contemporary world are simply lacking from my personal ideals of a well-ordered society. Included is the total absence of professional athletics, as well as professional singers, actors, and most artists in general. This is not to say that these activities are absent, but rather they simply do not serve as aspects of social unification. There are a great variety of reasons for this, at least insofar as these choices reflect my own particular social values. For one, I tend to imagine societies as having a high degree of interest in practicing things but a low value of interest in paying large amounts of money to watch other people do them. One when couples this with a low degree of interest in gambling, this tends to have predictable outcomes in that no one can support themselves through the playing of sports for others. A great many people may play in addition to their ordinary labor, in front of and alongside their friends and family, but this sort of fondness for amateur sporting does not imply a high degree of interest in massive stadiums, but rather the proliferation of beloved but generally modest sporting venues that are focused around churches, schools, and neighborhoods. Similarly, this absence of massive sporting infrastructure tends also to avoid at least some aspects of the tribalism that sports fandom tends to create within a civilization such as our own, and eliminates one of the means of social control that has been used to deflect the attention of the masses from more serious matters.

Similarly, any society that reflects my own standards is going to look down upon the sort of entertainment infrastructure that our contemporary world has as well. That is not to say that there will not be performing of music or even theatrics, but rather there is a stark difference between such performance as would exist in a Nathanish society and what we find in contemporary society. Again, the absence of large-scale logistics for such performances would make the performance of music a rather small-scale and local endeavor. It is possible that there would be enough space in local and regional festivals to provide a sort of state fair or agricultural fair tour base for artists, but this hardly leads to a life of luxury. Similarly, a great deal of the performance of music and theatrics would be closely connected to the church, and this would involve a different moral perspective than is at present in much of the contemporary music world. A world of entertainment that was governed and closely monitored by church and state and that would have a strong focus on the moral behavior of artists and the moral content of art would drastically shape the sort of art that was created and how it was enjoyed.

As a proper Nathanish society would be a petit bourgeois society that is based on small family farms in the country and small entrepreneurial firms in towns and cities, with a minimum of large governmental institutions as well, this would tend to support a robust and widespread creation of locally sensitive and generally small-scale artistic work. The lack of large and dominant wealthy and powerful figures and institutions would tend to retard the patronage of art and architecture by the wealthy and would similarly avoid creating a creative class that felt itself independent from the opinion of censorious neighbors or of religious arbiters of morality and good taste. If this would not necessarily prevent creativity it would strongly create the ends to which that creativity was put. The development of a demented celebrity culture like our own would of necessity be greatly if not completely stamped out by the modest remuneration as well as the heavy accountability of creative people to their communities as well as to civil and religious authorities for how that creativity was put. And that is by no means a bad thing.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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