Now I like that--not because I am a fan of their food, I don't think I have ever set foot in one of their establishments--no, I like it because the theme is "back to the roots."
I was mulling over the idea of thenness and nowness and some examples came to mind. We have to go back a few years. When I was in first year university I was enrolled in a German course and the text was pretty good. For the readings it had a pretty fair selection of German literature that included folks like Goethe and a bunch more that I don't recall. I kept the book on my shelves for decades after and only lost it in the Great Evil Mover Event of several years ago. I had to take another German course when I was a grad student in musicology, much more recently, and the contrast was striking: the new text had no actual German literature, just mundane readings from advertisements and other ordinary fodder.
Let's take another example: I just bought a book on yoga for people over fifty (yes, I know, depressing, isn't it!) and I can't help but compare it to a book I had when I was twelve on yoga. This one:
Here is the one I just bought:
After doing a little bit of browsing, I cannot but think that the old one is much better than the new one. It got right down to business while the new one spends a remarkable amount of time babbling about how the author got into teaching, more babbling about how wonderful yoga is and how it can reverse ageing and so on. The first fifty, sixty pages are like an extended infomercial for the book. Please! The only thing the new book has over the old one is better design and better photos. Well, clearer photos--as far as illustrating poses they are no better than the old ones. The whole book just exudes an aura of phoniness and BS. But oh so flattering to the reader and the author, wow, is it ever. The old book just spent all of its time teaching you about yoga and as a result, taught you a lot more.
We keep hearing about how our culture is being dumbed down, but we kind of nod our heads disapprovingly without actually taking it in. The truth is that two things are happening with the transmission of knowledge. First, yes, except for very specialized contexts, all knowledge is being dumbed down to a remarkable extent. At the same time it is being pumped up with glitz and design and flashy colors and marketing and flattering the recipients. The other thing that is happening is that there is very often some sort of ideological subtext where they smuggle in whatever fashionable memes they can: climate change! equity! inequality! You know that script.
I read somewhere that there are only two fundamental themes in politics: "Bright New Day!" and "Back to Basics!" I guess it is time for the latter as we have had about as much of the former as we can stand, for a while anyway.
The arts are often a harbinger of social change, though reading them successfully is not very easy. But I think we can trace a movement in music that is about as "back to basics" as you can get. Yes, I have talked about this before, but that does not make it any less striking. In the late 60s and early 70s several composers in the US, among them Philip Glass and Steve Reich, went back to the musical basics with a vengeance. Here are a couple of examples. First, Philip Glass, Music With Changing Parts:
Next, Steve Reich with Music for Large Ensemble: