Seeing stagnation, part 2: chords

This post is more unfinished than usual. Here’s what I’m wrestling with:

  • Pizza is a good example of a chord. Pizza is comprised of elements that combine appealingly but don’t describe reality, an excellent conveyance for superstimuli like fat and salt, and clearly bounded by its crust.
  • Pizza is an excellent solution to “many simultaneous complex problems.” Pizza facilitates social bonding by being a communal, handheld food, as well as an uncontroversial preference that nearly everyone can converge on. Pizza is also cheap to produce and, unlike many other forms of fast food (McDonald’s, Chinese) is good hot or cold.
  • Yet this and this seem like evidence that nobody knows how to vertically innovate on pizza. In other words, pizza is stagnant. Yet nobody seems bothered.
  • What would it take for pizza to become obsolete? Obsolescence doesn’t mean low quality — most pizza is already pretty bad. Nor does it mean substitutions that only partially cut into pizza’s territory, such as burritos. Obsolescence means a change in available options that causes everybody to collectively realize pizza is something they’ve been settling for, and don’t have to anymore. So they stop consuming it altogether. Obsolescence is automatic elevators instead of elevator operators, or electric light instead of oil lamps.
  • But how does that apply to pizza? The only unambiguous vertical leap I can imagine for pizza is if humans transcend biological form and food-based sustenance becomes optional.
  • Why should anyone care? The use of gimmicks to distract from disappointing quality (such as the pizza box made of pizza) is a phenomenon that occurs in all aesthetic domains. Does it make sense to call it stagnation? I’m not sure.

1 thought on “Seeing stagnation, part 2: chords

  1. footnoteofhypertext

    if the main benefit of art stuff is what it does to your brain for lack of better way of putting it, what is the relation metaphor wise to what a zero to one shift would do for the brain? If the main thing we get from food is sustenance,ritual,nutrients etc can that really be transcended?
    My intuition is art is not about transcending the problem but doing the thing of it so much you transcend it through itself
    technological transcending isn’t the same as other kinds of transcending maybe, tech transcending just makes humanity more complicated it frees up more time and resources to solve bigger problems but can also procrastinate deeper issues, good art speaks to deeper parts of humanity and is not procrastinating human issues but finding a better way to speak to them. Maybe within zero to one type stuff there is separate freeing up more resources by doing a thing more economically within art, and the thing you are trying to describe. Back to pizza supposedly frozen pizzas were like pieces of cardboard back then, now they are probably one of the better frozen foods you can heat up, pizza probably has gotten better, but measuring it is difficult.
    Transcending the need for food, for sustenance or nutrients seems like wrong direction maybe. There isn’t an art that can make someone transcend or become better, but they can articulate a thing so well it is a bit more digested.
    Maybe the reason the artist who first does something seems better is because the newness of whatever they are doing is a reflection of their artfulness not the thing itself. For example when I used to have to write essays I found the essays I wrote on the spot last minute were better because they had element of inspiration, otherwise it was more like following a formula. If an artist is just trying to competently execute a formula because that is the best so far, it shows, once they have internalized the things so much and start transcending it then maybe new things are just side effects? Just rambling I have no idea.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s