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Throughout history, trends and periods have all opposed each other. If you look in history, each period, whether it be the roaring 20's or its conservative precursors, has been a radical contradiction to the one before it. If you look in literature, Romanticism, which gained strength during the Industrial Revolution, was followed by Realism, a completely different idea that went against every facet of Romanticism. If we look in art and music, the Romantic style of music was like an "unruly teenager" compared to its parent, the classical style. This affected the successes of many talented artists and musicians. For example, Bach's talent was almost dismissed at the time of his death because of his baroque style-- which seemed like an anachronism in the new found classical era. His fame was not fully recognized until the Romantic period!

What does all say about art and our society? Does it hint that, we, as individuals, feel the need to be different from everyone else? Does it hint that we often try too hard to be individuals and we try too hard to rebel against the machine to the extent where we create a completely new era of thought? I find this ironic because, if the "in" thing is to be an individual and to not "conform," does this not mean that we are actually conforming-- that, by trying to be "different" from everyone else, we are actually being the same?

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This is an interesting point; it is true that individuality/originality in art has been more or less prized according to the values of the society at the time. The emphasis on originality of inspiration is actually a value that became powerful currency during in 19th century (Romantic period) Europe, and still has powerful influence over what we consider art today. In Bach's time, everyone borrowed ideas from each other and/or recycled their own material all the time, and no one thought anything of it. No one thought that because the ideas weren't "original" that the music was somehow less good; this whole concept would have been foreign to them.
What interests me is whether this emphasis on individualism corresponds to a diminishment of behavior that is based on communal (or even familial) values. Is this individualism at the expense of the ties between us?

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