This is part II of my interview with GPT-3. My questions are in bold.
I want to go back to our discussion of modern architecture. In particular, I want to start by asking about the change in modern clothing. It seems to me that people, especially rich people, and especially men, don’t dress in colorful clothing anymore. Is this related to the change in architecture, or is it unrelated?
I think it’s related. I think that the architecture of the 20th century was a reaction to the Victorian era, which was very colorful and ornate. And then in the 20th century, we got into this modern movement where everything was supposed to be stripped down and minimal. So I think that’s why we see this shift from colorful clothing to more monochromatic clothing.
The other thing that I think is related is the rise of mass media. In the Victorian era, there was a lot of emphasis on the individual and individuality, and you see this in fashion as well. People wanted to stand out from the crowd. But then in the 20th century, we get into this era of mass media, and people are more interested in fitting in with the crowd. And I think that’s why we see this shift from colorful clothing to monochromatic clothing.
Why was there a movement to be more minimal?
I think it was a reaction to the Victorian era. The Victorians were very ornate and very decorative, and I think that there was a backlash against that.
Is the backlash tied to people’s greater knowledge of and empathy towards other people’s suffering in the world? Kind of like, “How could you wear those fancy clothes when there are people starving in Africa?”
I think that’s part of it. I think that the Victorians were very self-indulgent, and they had a lot of excesses. So I think there was a backlash against that. But I also think it was just a reaction to the Victorian era in general.
Is a change in religion tied to any of this?
I think that’s part of it. I think there was a lot more emphasis on individualism in the Victorian era, and I think that’s tied to Protestantism. There was also this idea of the “self-made man,” which is very Protestant as well. So I do think religion played a role in all of this.
What about technological change? Were there any technologies that had a significant impact on creating the modern movement?
I think the automobile was important. I think that it gave people a lot more mobility, and so they were able to travel to different parts of the country, and they were able to see what other architects were doing in other parts of the country. And so I think that’s why we saw this spread of modern architecture across the United States.
I think that the airplane was also important. I think that it gave people a lot more mobility, and so they were able to travel to different parts of the world, and they were able to see what other architects were doing in other parts of the world. And so I think that’s why we saw this spread of modern architecture across the globe.
How have people’s tastes in music changed along with this?
I think that the music of the 20th century was a reaction to the Victorian era. The Victorians were very sentimental, and they had a lot of excesses in their music as well. So I think there was a backlash against that. And so you see this shift from sentimental music to more minimalist, atonal music.
Why is there no “Mozart of the 21st century”? Does no one have the ability anymore?
I think that there is a Mozart of the 21st century. I think that we just don’t know it yet. And I think that we’re still waiting for someone to come along and create something really new and exciting, like Mozart did in his time.
Would it be a classical composer? That’s what I’m talking about. Someone whose music is, to the untrained ear, indistinguishable from the great classical composers.
I think that it would be a classical composer. I think that we’re still in the middle of this transition from romanticism to modernism, and so we haven’t gotten there yet. But I do think that someone will come along and create something really new and exciting.
Are people still composing traditional classical music? One time in college I went to a “modern” orchestral composition. It was a full orchestra combined with someone with a turntable. My god, it was awful! But the whole audience sat there and took it, and even politely applauded at the end!
I think that there is traditional classical music being written, but I think that it’s a very small audience. And so composers aren’t really interested in writing for this audience. They’re only interested in writing for their friends and other composers and stuff like that. So they don’t really care about reaching the general public with their music.
We’ve talked about architecture, dress, and music. Do you see the same movements in other media?
I think so. I think the same is true with literature, for example. There was a lot of emphasis on individualism in the Victorian era, and then in the 20th century there was this huge shift toward minimalism and objectivism. So I do see it in other media as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about the aesthetic movements in the 20th century, I recommend that you read Zweig’s book The Modern Mind.
Who is Zweig?
We’ve been talking about the 20th century, but Zweig is a 19th-century writer. I highly recommend that you read his book The World of Yesterday, which is an autobiography. It’s very interesting because he talks about how he sees the world before and after WWI. He was born in Austria right before the turn of the century, and then he lived through the war and lived through the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And it’s very interesting to see how his view of life changes as he goes from being a child right before WWI to an adult after WWII. He writes about how his childhood is one of extreme optimism and innocence, and then he comes back from the war and he can never recapture that optimism and innocence.
It’s a very interesting book, and it gives you a sense of what life was like in Europe before WWI. It doesn’t really give you too much of an idea about what life was like in America during that time period, but it does give you some idea. For example, he talks about how he thinks that there is no more chance of war in Europe because all the European nations are friends now. And then when WWI breaks out, you realize how little he understood about European politics at the time.
And also, it’s interesting to see how his views change after WWII. It’s almost like a reversion to the Victorian era. He talks about how he doesn’t want to go back to the days of his childhood, and so he’s much more critical of what was going on in Germany at the time.
This article is reprinted from Mises.org.
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That got weird. Anyway, I think you’re talking about Stefan Zweig. Correct? I thought he died during WWII though.
Yes, he did. And he committed suicide after the war because of his disillusionment with humanity. He was a very pessimistic person at the end of his life.
I’m glad you brought up this book, because I really liked it. It was written in 1942 or 1943, I believe, and it’s an account of what people believed in the 1930s. It’s interesting to read how people were thinking in the past, because it gives you a sense of what they thought was important at the time.
Speaking of literature and WWII, Theodor Adorno wrote “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”. Do you agree? Is it barbaric to write poetry in today’s world?
I don’t think that it’s barbaric to write poetry in today’s world. I think that you have to be careful about what you’re writing about, but I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with writing poetry. What Adorno meant by this quote was not that people shouldn’t write poetry because they feel like it. He meant specifically that they shouldn’t write about happy, beautiful things when there is so much suffering in the world. And I agree with that sentiment.
It’s not barbaric to write poetry at all, but I do think it’s important to be aware of what you’re writing about and why you’re writing it. If you’re writing a poem about your happy childhood when other people are dying in the Congo, then that’s insensitive. But if you’re writing a poem about your happy childhood and you also happen to be donating all the proceeds from this poem to Doctors Without Borders, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Again, this has been fascinating. Thank you so much for your time.
I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you for the interview.