Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? 2017-02-05T17:49:48.860Z


Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-10T21:35:05.610Z · LW · GW

I understand what you are saying, but I am still curious if you agree that there is a limit of distinctness in music? It seems difficult to argue that there is unlimited distinctness in music, and I don't think you are, but that you are instead arguing that it requires a certain level of the artistic sensibility to gauge the limits of musical possibility.

If so, who do you think / what type of person would have the requisite artistic sensibility to make such a judgment with some accuracy (but still imperfect)?

If you have the requisite artistic sensibility (I'm not saying you asserted that but I'm curious if you do think that), what is your position on where our current collective body of musical works is in relationship to an objective limit in the distinctiveness of new music?

If you do not think you have the requisite artistic sensibility, are you saying that from your perspective and my perspective that we can make no predictions on whether humanity reaches a certain limit of distinctiveness in music this decade vs in 10,000 years? What I mean is, is your position that there is no way for someone without the necessary artistic sensibility to estimate any limit in the distinctness of music?


Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-09T18:16:36.284Z · LW · GW

I understand your point. My experience is in the genre of rock music (which is songs) and not in classical music, so my explorations into the metaphysical nature of music is based on extensive experience with songs (and not in other pieces of music). However, I believe at the metaphysical level that this idea applies to, there is not a substantial difference in examining the nature of songs and other pieces of music. That may make the perspective I'm coming from clearer to you, or we may have to agree to disagree.

I have not read the Fun Theory Sequence article, but you're right that is connected to this topic. I appreciate the link. Thanks for your comments!

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-08T17:34:54.325Z · LW · GW

To be more clear, putting pieces of music under different labels (bagatelle, folk song, house track, etc) doesn't have a bearing on this discussion of what is the metaphysical nature of a piece of music. I understand that I was using the word "song" colloquially for a piece of music. I was not attempting to initiate a debate on the dictionary definition of a song or its characteristics in relation to other types of music. Again, I would refer you to the metaphysical discussion that many of the other posters contributed to.

I understand that music categorization and music theory are a separate and important topic of which you may have an expertise in, but that is a different discussion.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-08T17:15:21.235Z · LW · GW

IE "what is a piece of music?" from a metaphysical perspective.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-08T15:04:17.927Z · LW · GW

You're failing to engage the question of the nature of songs and music as a metaphysical level. I agree that mass culture and dissemination of works is part of the discussion, but it doesn't seem like you're trying to engage with that nature of "what is a song?". (See a number of the longer comment chains by other posters who provided thoughts on this topic if you're not sure what is under examination besides mass culture and dissemination.)

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-08T05:34:28.296Z · LW · GW

Even though we are of slightly different opinions, I'm glad we are on the same page of what I was trying to discuss and get thoughts on--this has been good. You're right that the sparseness I'm proposing is hard to judge and you can't break down the argument further. My perception comes from my experience in attempting songwriting in the genre of rock where I felt like after spending many hours songwriting that I could understand and perceive the boundaries of the genre/niche at an intuitive level from much trial-and-error--which isn't an argument to convince you or someone else (of course), but just to explain to you why it seems self-evident to me that the songs are very sparse in the space. That in addition to observing the factors I had mentioned before (limited period of best work for each band, declining output of distinct new styles/bands, etc).

Yes, you are right that there is a big difference between addressing older genres like classical and jazz vs current genres, but applying the same concept has led me to believe that the remaining genres will soon be completed as well--which I will do my best to explain, bear with me.

With rock music, much of my experience comes from time spent songwriting and exploring the niche, but also from observing the progression of rock music. One of the simplest factors to see in progression of the opening up of new styles in rock was changes / advances in production styles. So in the 50s, songs by rock acts like Elvis, Buddy Holly, etc were all recorded in Mono sound. That proceeded into the Beatles early work (eg "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"). Mono sound gave songs a distinct sound different than stereo sound, but was also more limited in general. Phil Spector's Wall of Sound technique did allow complexity in Mono (as best used by the Beach Boys in Pet Sounds) but it did not have as much potential as stereo in general. The Beatles then started recording in stereo sound. Partially because of the new larger stereo space, and partially just in tandem development, they (and others) opened up the door for much more varied sounds and instrumentation and styles. Led Zeppelin and early metal figured out how to record heavier sounding drums and fuller distorted guitars. The 80s brought reverb (big room sound) and synthesizers and different guitar sounds into rock (Van Halen etc). Nirvana's Nevermind's production helped usher in even heavier drums and bigger distorted guitar alternative rock sound that persisted into grunge and post-grunge sounds. In the 2000s, indie rock like Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, etc explored additional sonic textures, combining distorted guitar with heavy reverb and big spaces (along with many bands who pulled from sonic and production styles of previous decades within an indie rock sound). But from my judgment, 2009 was the last peak of new distinct indie rock bands and sounds (it was starting to decline after that).

In a way, the simplest way to view running out of rock music was to see that there was no further places to go with production techniques or the sonic environment or instrumentation of a song (in a distinct way). At the same time, Indie rock in the 2000s was more democratized than rock ever was before because technology and the internet allowed anyone to write and record music. But I think that democratization allows completion to happen at a faster rate.

In a similar way, rap appears to have maxed out production advances and is starting to run out of distinct sonic textures. Current rap, electronic, and pop music use similar modern production elements that are different than what was 10 years ago or in the 90s or in the 80s. It takes examination of production and the progress up until now, but it seems evident to me that there isn't going to be another large production breakthrough. That in tandem with the fact that current rap, electronic, and pop (or any music) is more democratized as ever, with millions of people trying to create the next great style of song, and it seems likely that these genres will be substantially completed in the next 5-10 years as well (somewhat using rock completion as a metric).

I agree that it is difficult to explain or prove, because most of the evidence that I'm explaining is really a complex picture of what I see as self-evident but can't be broken down further into a simpler argument. We probably will have to agree to disagree, but I'm glad you brought it down to this level of detail. Thanks!

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-08T00:00:54.019Z · LW · GW

Yea, I'm a fan of Joseph Campbell's ideas, and of course the great monomyth movies (Star Wars, LOTR, The Matrix, Harry Potter, etc). I agree that every story relies on structures that other stories use and nothing is fully original. Star Wars is a great example because it borrowed not only from the monomyth story, but from westerns, samurai movies, WWII movies, space operas, high fantasy (LOTR), science fiction epics (Dune), etc. Star Wars was great because it was really the perfection of the space opera genre, just like The Matrix was the ideal cyberpunk movie.

What I'm trying to get at is that on a long enough timescale, there is a limit to the distinct movie stories we can create. A great story like Star Wars is really like a complex puzzle, with hundreds of factors working together to make it a great movie. Do you think there are an infinite number of potential movies as unique/distinct/fresh as Star Wars or do you think the number is limited? Once I believed that the number is limited, then I started to wonder about how many distinct/fresh stories are left. And then I started to think of the possibility that perhaps movie studios are not putting money into trying to make the next new Star Wars or The Matrix because no one is writing those scripts, because there actually isn't a new Star Wars or The Matrix to create. In other words, the decline in new properties made more sense to me in terms of my idea on completion than that the studios have just gotten lazy or more conservative (which could be true as well).

The more in depth explanations in other replies are a better justification of the idea, this is more just the observation in relation to movies. Hopefully you get what I'm trying to get at. It is conceptual and not easy to explain, for sure.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-07T23:29:45.667Z · LW · GW

Yes, you are getting into the heart of what I'm trying to examine. This concept began to form for me as I was writing and recording rock songs and trying to create a distinct sound within that genre. New distinct music is largely created intuitively by people borrowing on the past but adding variation (like you said). But songs contain a more specific balance of factors than I think people realize, which makes a song more like a complex puzzle than just a complex combination of attributes. Many factors must sync together correctly including chord progression, melody, key, rhythm, vocal style, instrumentation, and audio production. But those factors are all limited in their distinctness (limited notes on a scale, limited chords, limited instruments, limited vocal styles). And for a song to work well, all the factors must sync correctly. If you put Elvis' voice instead of Kurt Cobain's on Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", it might be funny but it wouldn't work as well. Kurt sings more like Paul Westerberg of the Replacements (listen to "Bastards of Young"), which is a specific distinct vocal style that they share (which works well for a certain type of style only).

So if you have 1000 (to be simple) vocal styles, 1000 chord progressions, 1000 combinations of instruments,....etc, it's not that each specific vocal style could be paired with each chord progression and with each combination of instruments, etc. In fact, it would be only very specific combinations that would work well. So, the songs that work seem to be extremely sparse within the search space.

Along the same line, if you look at rock bands, they usually have a period of 5-20 years where they produce their best work. It seems to be that they run out of good songs (the possible puzzle combinations of factors within their own style). A band like AC/DC recorded their best songs in the 70s and 80s, and then most of what they released after that just sounded like them repeating their sound but with diminishing results. If there really was a lot of untapped songs within a band's style, it seems like there would be at least a few counter examples of bands who produce the same high level of quality for 30 or 40 or 50 years, but I've never seen that happen.

And once you run out of new distinct factors (voice styles, or production styles, or instrumentation) then it seems like the potential for new distinct songs (as complex puzzles of those factors) also will run out. We have moved through genres over time, including better production in the last 20 years and more electronic aspects etc, but when will the well run dry?

It seems to me that with art (including music), we start with primitive attempts and instruments, but then we develop more complex music theory and new instruments, but then eventually we run out of new and our output will decline. While I was working on writing rock songs, I was noticing at the same time that bands I liked seemed to have declining quality of output, and there weren't new bands in different styles but of equal quality releasing music to fill the void. The rate of creation of new and quality rock songs and styles seemed to be in decline. I don't see there being a different method to unlock many other great songs or new styles than the intuitive method and trial-and-error that has been used for centuries; I think the well is just dry.

Anyway, the idea itself is interesting to me because if this concept applies to music then it seems like it would apply to all things involving creativity and discovery. That we can view all knowledge and creation as one thing (The Big Niche) that exists apart from whether possibilities have been created or not, and that it will all eventually be completed at some point in the future.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-07T22:29:04.258Z · LW · GW

Sure, I didn't mean to imply that art is just about new creations. There are many other values to art and creativity of course. Also, I agree that we are fortunate to have an abundance of music available. So don't take what I'm saying as a criticism of creativity or art, or not appreciating the value of them apart from newness. I'm more examining this topic in the interest of understanding human progress and discovery in general.

I agree that this idea is difficult to prove as of now, which is why I'm doing my best to explain my thought process as to what seems evident to me, and I'm appreciating the objections that others are raising. But if we get to the year 2200 and the majority of people still listen to music primarily from 1500-2050 (or whatever), then that does say something about our reality and human progress/discovery. It also is interesting to me that people intuitively view creativity as something open-ended and undefined (at least I did until a few years ago), when perhaps there is something objective and defined and limited about human discovery (which I now believe).

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-07T18:26:44.406Z · LW · GW

I don't mean to press you on a point, but when you say in reference to musical consensus, "Probably, but I think your example is a little bit too extreme to demonstrate your point", I think it is important to say whether you believe there is any musical consensus of what is good, or if you believe there is zero consensus. The degree does not matter as to whether the point I'm trying to make is true. Is there any consensus based on how shared human nature interacts with physical sounds as to what is agreed upon as "good"? It seems difficult to argue that any consensus is completely arbitrary.

Also, I'm not saying that there is not infinite gradation of sounds or instrumentation, but there is a limit to the distinctness of sounds or instrumentation. Do you believe there are infinite distinct sounds or instruments possible? There isn't clear language for what I'm trying to get at, but think about how a violin is more distinct from a tuba than from a cello. Or think of it in terms of being similar to the visual spectrum of light: there are infinite gradations of color, but there isn't infinite distinctness. There are limits to the range of the visible spectrum of light, with the primary colors being most distinct from each other (but there is an infinite amount of gradation that can be categorized as sub-colors).

The point being that if there is an objective aspect as to what human nature appreciates as a song, and there is a limit to the distinctness of sounds (and other factors like rhythm, song structure etc), then there would be a limit to possible songs and a limit to possible songs that would be considered "good" by the general consensus (which I agree with you is very varied, but it is still non-arbitrary).

I think you are right to bring in painting or other forms of art to the discussion. What I'm really trying to do is explain a phenomena that I've observed in multiple forms of art. There is a pattern that appears to be taking place, that humans start out with very primitive forms of visual or auditory art, and then develop techniques and understanding to increase in complexity and open up new possibilities in art (like you refer to in your first couple paragraphs), but then the speed of development of more distinct works seems to slow down at a certain point and eventually decline. I agree that this observation is difficult to judge, but do you agree that there is a limit to distinctness? On a long enough timescale, (for example) wouldn't all classical music sound like a song that has already come before?

I appreciate the back and forth and your arguments.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-07T16:22:16.586Z · LW · GW

Sure, the position I'm coming from is that there is a varied and subjective experience of music, but there is clearly a shared consensus of what is good. That we all share common characteristics of auditory and musical experience because we are all human--not that we all experience music the same way or have the same appreciation of individual songs, but that our experience of music has similarities due to our shared human nature.

So if I hit random piano keys with my hands a few times and call it a song, the consensus of music listeners would be that Beethoven's Fur Elise is a better song. I'm saying that it seems evident to me that there is something objectively different about those two "songs" that in tandem with human nature makes Fur Elise appeal as the better song to the general consensus of human music listeners. (of course outliers could enjoy my random chords more).

So where we might be conflicting, is that I see something objective behind what makes a "good" song by the consensus of human nature. I agree that there are many cultural factors at play as to what is popular according to mass culture. But if song quality is related to something objective, and the general consensus is that the best classical artists are from over 50-100 years ago, why would the rate of "great" classical songs have declined while there is as much or more opportunity to compose classical music as ever? Through the internet, we also have the quickest dissemination of music ever (so it seems unlikely that classical music fans would be unaware of current composers who are performing as great of works as Beethoven or Mozart).

More simply, I'm viewing songs as concepts. So like "you can't reinvent the wheel", you can't reinvent Fur Elise. So it's not that there are not skilled composers currently, but that there is very few remaining concepts (songs) for them to invent. Just like you could reinvent the lightbulb, but you wouldn't get acclaim for that because Thomas Edison already did that.

I agree with you that this is a difficult idea to prove, because what I am claiming are self-evident propositions--upon examination--are very complex. But I done't see a way to break the observation down further into simpler if/then arguments.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-06T14:46:22.987Z · LW · GW

Yes, I think we are stuck at this point. It seems that you are saying that it is self-evident that all relevant factors are unlimited and completely subjective, but from the points I was making I was trying to show why to me it is self-evident that the relevant factors are limited and objective. Just because something can have unlimited gradation, doesn't mean that something like "instrumentation" or "melody" is indistinct and has no boundaries. And the distinctness is what leads to its perceived limit.

Along the same lines, you are arguing against absolute objectivity in musical appreciation, but that is not what I was asserting. I was arguing that there is an absolute limit to the number of distinct songs with a certain combination of distinct factors, and that because human nature between people has commonalities, there is consensus and similar subjective experience (within a range) of what has a greater enjoyment or emotional effect on listeners (I was using the word effect in reference to your own definition). To argue that art or music is absolutely subjective and indistinct seems the exact opposite of what is self-evident to me. You would also have to deny any shared human nature as to what sounds or songs have an emotional or mental effect on people.

I think those two points are where we truly disagree and won't get past. Thanks for your input and the back and forth! I enjoyed the conversation.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-06T04:54:17.229Z · LW · GW

Yes I see what you're saying. I think a larger set of elements does not mean that all combination of those elements "works" as a movie story. It seems better to view possibilities as limited and sparse distinct points. A movie like Star Wars requires the correct combination of thousands of factors, and if you only had the right balance of half of the factors then there wouldn't necessarily be another workable story there.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that there seems to be a certain number of distinct point possibilities of movie stories that isn't directly a factor of the set of elements involved.

I agree with you though, I'm not sure there is an iron-clad proof of this idea. I think it being proved right will depend on reaching a point where many people start to view our greatest works as being behind us, and wonder why that is the case.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-06T04:38:56.995Z · LW · GW

Thanks for taking the time to read the article and continue responding. To progress further, maybe the idea I need to address is distinct points vs gradation.

Would you agree in music that there are limited factors involved in what makes a song? There are probably more than I can name (rhythm, chords, melody, instrumentation, etc), but there is a limit to how many factors are at play. These factors exist in limited distinct manifestations but that have infinite gradation. For example, look at the factor of instruments in an orchestra. There may be infinite gradations of each type of orchestral instrument (in the sound that it makes), but there are not infinite distinct types of instruments. Think about why there are around 24 instruments (I believe) in an orchestra--there are infinite gradations of instruments but a limit to distinct instruments.

The laws and matter of the universe manifests itself into limited distinct factors at play in music, which then manifests into limited distinct songs (those combinations of factors that produce a musical effect on a human being--related to our hearing and mental nature).

Within those possibilities of combinations of musical factors that can be put together and called a song, not all are equal in their effect on a human being. I can play a few chords randomly on the guitar, record the audio, and call it a song. But what separates that recording from The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction"? There are a limited number of distinct songs that we have recorded up until the present that can produce the same level of effect on a human being as "Satisfaction".

How can there then be an infinite number of distinct songs to create in the future that would have an equal or greater effect on a human being as "Satisfaction"?

Again, I'm not saying that we will stop creating music in the future. Just that at some point there will be a general consensus that our best works are behind us--the idea that "you can't reinvent the wheel". We will keep creating songs with infinite gradations, but they won't be infinitely distinct with as much of an effect on humans as the songs that came before. And while different songs have different levels of effect on different people, there is a non-perfect but non-arbitrary consensus on certain songs or artists having more of an effect than others (the extreme example being my random chords recorded have little effect vs "Satisfaction" having great effect).

As far as the utility of the idea, if we can view the sum of all possibilities as The Big Niche, then we can view all uncompleted possibilities as the remaining problems in the goal of human advancement. This can apply at a personal level to anyone looking to accomplish something great or contribute to human progress. For example, if you were a songwriter looking to make a significant contribution, it would be better to pursue an uncompleted genre (pop, hip hop, electronic, etc) instead of a mostly completed genre (classical, jazz, rock). But it also would apply to science, business, and technology: just like new instruments helped create new genres, a new technology or concept may create a new niche of possibilities in which to further explore in that field. Granted, progress in these fields already progresses in this way at an intuitive level, but it seems like having a stronger grasp of what is happening in human progress at a metaphysical level could only help (and couldn't hurt).

It also follows that if The Big Niche is the sum of all possibilities, then we could view an Ideal Niche as the interplay of the big niche with human nature--an ideal configuration of all possibilities for human benefit. So the goal of humanity would be to discover all knowledge, and then be able to remake society to find the distinct ideal equilibrium in all things. Like a great song is a distinct point in the niche of music, there is a distinct point in all facets of society as to what the ideal configuration for humans would be.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-06T04:10:47.684Z · LW · GW

These are good points. I agree with you that we can view songs within a "song-space", but I think that specific points (songs) of a certain value or effect on humans are actually very sparse in the song-space. I can strum a few random chords, record it, and call it a song, but that is very different from the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". If you take all the factors that comprise a song, it is only very specific combinations that turn out to be songs that have a strong effect on people. So the song-space would be large, but the specific points would be limited and sparse.

I think you bring up a good problem that it is hard to make judgments based on observations currently in music--it's hard to say for sure while new music is still being created. I do think that all music is closer than we think to completion, with the current popular genres of rap, pop, electronic etc being the final genres to be substantially completed. I predict that in the next 5-10 years, it will become more evident that music as a whole has reached a point where all of the most significant songs are in the past. Only time will tell to some extent. Even then I think it won't be clear to most people until we have experienced decades of lack of musical progress.

Thanks for your thoughts by the way.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-06T03:56:59.715Z · LW · GW

Yea exactly, that's the point I'm trying to get at. It seems like there is a limit to the possibilities of "great" contributions to any field, and if that is so then it makes sense that eventually each field will be completed. Completion is the point where humanity has completed every field and discovered all knowledge (and could be viewed as the biggest goal for humanity in a way).

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-06T01:25:27.745Z · LW · GW

Great, thanks for the link. I've read a fair amount of his stuff, but I didn't know he had an article on this topic.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-05T23:57:12.956Z · LW · GW

Ok great, yes this is what I'm trying to get at. First of all, I think your definition of art is good.

To your first point, I would say that I believe instincts, language, culture, knowledge, and conditioning are factors in art. But I believe that they are all limited in possibilities as well. So the manifestation of those limited factors into different art would lead to limited possibilities of art.

Let me try and clarify that by addressing your next points. I agree that genres are not real things. Like all language, it is imperfect labeling for a practical purpose. To simplify the problem even more, lets take out the concept of genre. In the creation of music over time, songs share characteristics (instrumentation, sounds, structures, rhythms, etc), and the common characteristics of music shift and change over human history. Certain songs in a realm of shared characteristics appear to have a period of greater creation of significant works before songs with those characteristics eventually decline in quality. What I'm trying to get at is that it doesn't matter where you draw the lines for genres to determine whether there are limited possibilities in music as a whole.

The individual factors/characteristics of music are limited and therefore manifest into limited workable combinations (songs).

The article I link to "The Big Niche" is a three minute read and tries to explain the concept in totality if you have the time. I'm enjoying this back and forth.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-05T23:35:34.796Z · LW · GW

That's an interesting idea, and yes I'm still thinking through the idea myself. But couldn't the lack of popularity of a genre could be caused by the slowdown in release of substantial new works? Declining quality leads to less popularity?

I'm thinking of it in terms of the idea that "you can't reinvent the wheel." Each song or style is a concept that once created can't be recreated, and in the case of art it loses its freshness eventually.

I think it works at the level of a single band or artist as well. Take AC/DC for example. They released most of their "classic" material in the 70s and 80s. They continued to release albums through the 90s and 2000s, but the songwriting didn't seem to be as high of quality to most fans. Is it possible that their specific hard rock / blues rock sound had a limit to how many "great" songs they could write and they exhausted them by the 90s? Could that be a microcosm of music as a whole having a limit of styles and great songs that are eventually completed?

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-05T22:01:01.919Z · LW · GW

Sure, I didn't mean to take a narrow view of music, just to narrowly examine "newness" in music, which is a different question. I agree that music serves many purposes besides pop consumption of new songs or works. That is something I would want to explore further at some point.

I was aiming to understand the metaphysical question: is there is a limit to newness in music, and if so what does that imply about our universe? Could examining that question give us greater clarity in understanding the limits of other discovery or creation?

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-05T21:51:53.786Z · LW · GW

Interesting points, yea you're getting at the heart of what I'm trying to figure out. I think you're right, that it's easy to see how the story possibilities that use the simplest story types (Hero's Journey, etc) have possibly been ~90% completed.

But what makes you think that more complex story types allow many more possibilities? Along the lines of your point, Game of Thrones is a fantasy epic with a much darker tone that breaks storytelling conventions, but wouldn't any fantasy epic series with similar attributes in the future seem less groundbreaking than Game of Thrones? I agree that you could apply similar attributes to a Sci Fi epic series, or another type of series, but it seems like that type of story would begin to get old in the near future as well. On the television front, there are so many shows being created that it's hard to see how they can keep being groundbreaking.

With arty / more complex films like Being John Malkovich or Adaptation or Eternal Sunshine (I'm a fan of those Kaufman movies), does complexity lead to more possibilities of these types of movies or less? There seems to be a slowdown in more arty / complex stories this decade (than compared to the 90's for example).

With film and television creation being more democratized than ever, I don't see a reason why the creation of these type of films would slow down apart from the remaining stories requiring more complexity and skill to write than ever. I think we agree on the necessity of higher skill in writing currently. But, it seems to me that a slowdown in the category of non-traditional or unique stories would mean that we are running out of those story possibilities as well.

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-05T20:59:25.054Z · LW · GW

The reason that I bring up classical and jazz, is that there has been a clear slowdown in meaningful additions to the genres over the past few decades. So, if music genres reach a limit of possibilities, then it seems likely to apply to other areas of art as well.

Yes, I agree that there are more intelligent (or less simple) stories that haven't been written yet. I'm not sure if you are saying that you agree that there is a limit of possible stories, or that you think there is no limit? If there is a limit, what do you think would be the signs that we are reaching it?

I would agree that it seems from intuition that there are a lot of available stories still left to be written, but what would explain the slowdown in original properties being created or finding an audience currently (than in previous decades)?

Comment by stephen_s on Are we running out of new music/movies/art from a metaphysical perspective? · 2017-02-05T20:48:02.390Z · LW · GW

Yes, you're definitely right about reboots reflecting the preference of customers. But what leads to shifts in movie customer preferences?

It seems to me that movie audiences want to see a combination of newer, bigger, and better. A movie that doesn't seem like a new story, or a similar story but a bigger scale, or a similar story told better, doesn't seem to interest audiences in general. It's that feeling of "I've seen all of this before."

Is there a limit to how many new stories we can create, how big in scale the stories are, and how well we can tell the stories? Marvel / Star Wars / Disney are having massive success retelling similar stories but in larger scale and with better CGI and technology than before. How can they keep getting bigger or better indefinitely though?

(This is besides other current market factors like a larger international audience which has its own preference for movies which changes demand for certain types of films. Also I don't mean that we will every stop making movies, just that it will be clear to us that the most significant films are in the past at some point.)

Comment by stephen_s on Against willpower as a scientific or otherwise useful concept (Nautilus Magazine) · 2017-02-04T23:19:03.116Z · LW · GW

There continues to be too large of a magnet for psychological studies to "prove something interesting" so the study can become newsworthy. If that motivation comes into the picture, then there will obviously be some effect on the researcher's work. Whether the magnitude is as serious as some studies have shown, the replication crisis in psychology is a clear problem. Of course there are many academics not focused on discovering a pop-psych finding, but the pop-psych urge can't be helping the field as a whole.

Aside from the idea of ego depletion, it is clear that some people are able to include more future-thinking calculation in their decision-making than others, but it's not clear that someone can improve this attribute.