It is very likely that never in human history have there been as many treatises, essays, theories and analyses focused on culture as there are today. This fact is even more surprising given that culture, in the meaning traditionally ascribed to the term, is now on the point of disappearing. And perhaps it has already disappeared, discreetly emptied of its content, and replaced by another content that distorts its earlier meaning.
This short essay does not intend to add to the large number of interpretations of contemporary culture but rather to explore the metamorphosis of what was still understood as culture when my generation was in school or at university, and the motley definitions that have replaced it, an adulteration that seems to have come about quite easily, without much resistance.
Before developing my own argument, I would like to explore, albeit in summary fashion, some of the essays that, in recent decades, have focused on this topic from different perspectives, and have at times stimulated important intellectual and political debates. Although they are very different from each other, and are only a small sample of the ideas and theses that the subject has inspired, they do share a common denominator in so far as they all agree that culture is in deep crisis and is in decline. The final analysis in this essay, by contrast, talks of a new culture built on the ruins of what it has come to replace.
I begin this review with the famous, and polemical, declaration by T. S. Eliot. Although it is only some 67 years since he published, in 1948, his essay Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, when we reread it today, it seems to refer to a very remote era, without any connection to the present.
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