Plus ca change . . .

Terry Teachout writes:

My mother's life, in short, is a bridge between two profoundly, almost unimaginably different worlds. A child of the Great Depression, she was raised on a farm and baptized in a river, and has lived long enough to watch me talk on a computer screen, though she's never owned a computer of her own. Cake mixes and air conditioning are more her speed. The most recent inventions of any significance that she embraced wholeheartedly were the answering machine, the ATM, and the VCR. (She has a DVD player but never uses it.)

I suppose we all reach a moment in our lives when we lose interest in the new, and I suspect that moment comes sooner for technology than for art. For now I seem to be staying fairly open to new things--my experience as a blogger suggests as much--but I have yet to send my first text message, nor does my somewhat superannuated cellphone contain a digital camera. On the increasingly rare occasions when I feel the need to take a picture of something, I buy a disposable film camera, the postmodern equivalent of a Brownie, at the corner drugstore.

I'm not sure he doesn't have it backwards. Right now, I remain an avid consumer of new art and new technology . . . I just installed my first NAS this weekend. But music is the most pervasive form of art that most people consume, and most people I know stop listening to new music in their late twenties or early thirties, long before they're done buying DVD players and flat panel televisions. They do consume new books and new movies, but their patience with new styles seems to evaporate. And most people prefer the relentlessly unvarying style of Thomas Kinkade to a trip through the MOMA.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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