Going “Write only”


The discussion in The Republic maintains that would-be citizens of the ideal republic should be exposed to music that cultivates their good qualities, and prohibited from listening to the bad. Much modern music creates agitation and aggression. I’ll listen to serene and balanced songs like Gregorian chant and neoclassical, preferably from my own recordings rather than online streaming.

To further insulate myself from the pernicious influence of online mediocrity I will disable image loading in my browser. Online pictures are of two kinds: mundane photographs and a simplified telegraphic advertising style, for logos and minimal ornament. The “product style” is made of highly saturated homogeneous clean shapes and serves merely as simple mnemonics for products or services. The craftsmanship is these images is intentionally low because the images are meant to recall a product as efficiently as possible.

Extended time on the internet inures us to constraint and simplification. Take your average startup company logo and compare it with the free expression of a skilled painter. The logo looks cheap and comical, a petty token designed to evoke unthinking trust and visual association. It is easier than ever before in history to publish information worldwide, but paradoxically we produce lower quality work. Or maybe it’s the survivorship bias again. Think of a nineteenth century book with ornate etched print illustrations. The etching, and even the pressing and collating of pages were difficult processes but somehow the artists outdid us, we who can so easily create, modify and distribute images. Goodbye cartoonish web images, let me be immersed in nature and see uninhibited art instead.