Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let us pray

In the 19th century the English poet and critic Matthew
Arnold predicted that more and more people would
turn to poetry to "interpret life for us, to console us, to
sustain us." Without poetry, reckoned Arnold,
"our science will appear incomplete; and most of what
now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be
replaced by poetry.”

For poetry, read mass media entertainment—music,
television, films, the internet—and you could say that,
as far as the early 21st century is concerned, Arnold was
right on the button. But what consoles and sustains us
above all is the life stories of the rich, famous and
powerful constructed, narrated and constantly
embellished by the media. These are our sagas, our epic
poems; fame is the new religion and, like it or not, we
are all worshippers in the First Church of Celebrity.

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