Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Posterity Polling

Norm Geras is sponsoring an intriguing posterity poll, and these are my [slightly annotated] entries. My approach to constructing a time capsule is to try to balance including the best with including the most representative and the most influential, so that the future world might have some hope of reconstructing all that can't fit the capsule.

1. Poet - Homer and Ovid [There's no justifying the poets this leaves unpreserved, but choices must be made.]

2. Playwright - Sophocles and Shakespeare [Sophocles gives us another important window onto the classical world; and leaving Shakespeare here means I can sneak in an extra poet.]

3. Novelist - Abelard & Heloise. [Arguably a cheat, but I don't think so. Their overwrought epistles laid much of the groundwork for the novel form, and gave us plenty of insights into history, philosophy, theology, and the daily life of their times. Their correspondence takes the tradition of courtly love and breathes real life into it -- arguably a good enough summary of the novel, or if not that, at least an adequate starting point.]

4. Composer - Bach and Mozart [I know, I know --- highly original choices! But really, life would cease without either, so I have no choice.]

5. Jazz musician - Miles Davis [I am not a jazz fan -- if that even means anything -- but I cherish Kind of Blue.]

6. Rock or pop star/group - The Beatles [They had their own influences -- Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, jazz, etc. -- but they took it well beyond those sources and influenced very nearly everything that has come after; the music of 'youth culture' as we know it is unimaginable without John, Paul, George and Ringo.]

7. Country music - Hank Williams [He almost single-handedly spawned the genre once, why not again? If only he hadn't spawned his son. It's hard to leave out Johnny Cash, but choices must be made.]

8. Movie director - Stanley Kubrick [One stop shopping! He spans so many subgenres and touches on so much material that he suggests as many possibilities for movies as any director.]

9. Painter - Albrecht Dürer [I place him perfectly at the mid-point between painting-as-veneration and painting-as-representation, the sacred and the profane, premodern and modern. Just look at that hare! Painted in 1502!]

[These last three left blank out of prioritization; my passion runs low in these areas so the picks are best recovered and put to other areas, in keeping with Norm's rules.]

--x 10. Photographer
--x 11. Sculptor
--x 12. Architect

OK, I am going to post this and send it to Norm before my mind changes again. The Normblog poll remains open!

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