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Hafiz Juma

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Is the new TED initiative of "Ads Worth Spreading" worth supporting?

http://www.ted.com/pages/initiatives_ads_worth_spreading_about

I am pretty sure I will come off sounding like a hyper-critical pseudo-leftist sympathizer by putting this question up for debate. However, I feel it relates to a growing trend in contemporary life.

Firstly, is the TED initiative an endorsement of capitalism? Or to add a layer of criticism, is this a push towards cultural commodity fetishism as illustrated by Marx and elaborated by Benjamin? What happens in a society when the lines between culture, art, commerce, 'philanthropy' and development are blurred.

Or are we simply to accept that there exists a distinction between Art and Culture and the Art and Cultural industries? If so, how does that affect how we relate to things like TED, Museums and Academic institutions? Are we still capable of taking content at face value? Especially when a clear trajectory of an agenda surfaces (see TED and Africa, TED and Women, TED and the Acumen Fund)- albeit for an ultimately 'good' cause or one with seemingly good intentions?

On the other hand, if the only alternative to an Art as an industry is Art as therapy, is all art produced, regardless of intended implications (whether it be for a cause that is capital-averse or humanitarian, what is Art? Is it a socially dependent process requiring audience and a connotation of value?

I think this is a complex question that requires debate, however, does this inevitably take us to the conclusion that art is inherently capital-driven?

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    Mar 29 2011: William Golding on the Novel:

    "Boys do not evaluate a book. They divide books into categories. There are sexy books, war books, westerns, travel books, science fiction. A boy will accept anything from a section he knows rather than risk another sort. He has to have the label on the bottle to know it is the mixture as before. You must put his detective story in a green paperback or he may suffer the hardship of reading a book in which nobody is murdered at all; - I am thinking of the plodders, the amiable majority of us, not particularly intelligent or gifted; well-disposed, but left high and dry among a mass of undigested facts with their scraps of saleable technology. What chance has literature of competing with the defined categories of entertainment which are laid on for them at every hour of the day? I do not see how literature is to be for them anything but simple, repetitive and a stop-gap for when there are no westerns on the telly. They will have a far less brutish life than their Nineteenth-Century ancestors, no doubt. They will believe less and fear less. But just as bad money drives out good, so inferior culture drives out superior. With any capacity to make value judgements vitiated or undeveloped, what mass future is there, then, for poetry, for belles-lettres, for real fearlessness in the theatre, for the novel which tries to look at life anew - in a word, for intransigence?"

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