Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ten Years After

It is always amusing to watch something that was so perfectly in step with the times in its day, but is now dated. If we lived through the time in question it is also a bit embarrassing. We were not moved to amusement then by that which strikes us as somewhat ridiculous now. Looking back at highschool and college photos, we wonder not only that we thought our own choices of hairstyle and clothing were socially acceptable, but all those others around us looked unremarkable to us then as well. Forty years later, photos of us with our friends look like something out of National Geographic. Did we really think those colors and styles attractive?

"Everything that is not eternal is eternally out-of-date," CS Lewis wrote.

We see the first shadows of it only a few years out of highschool, but that image is clouded by our own distaste with how immature we look. The full effect doesn't start until about ten years out, when it is not only our callowness that grabs our attention. Looking then at the great and powerful from that era, we are struck by not only how their hair and clothing are out-of-style, but something deeper and subtler. The gestures and choice of words seem more artificial, because style changes in these things as well, though more slowly.

Sincere gestures and phrasings hold up better - those are based on thousands of years of cultural interactions handed down. Techniques of plausibility adopted for the moment rapidly become hollow. What amazes us now is how we ever fell for such persuaders. We fell for it because much of communication occurs in context. When the context is changed, protective layers of social grace are removed.

The content of the video is ironic in itself. But pay close attention to the artificiality of delivery. Now watch the video.

Via Bird Dog (and Habu) at Maggie's Farm.

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