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5.0 out of 5 stars ENDORSEMENT OF ‘THE AGE OF CULTURE’, 15 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Age of Culture (Paperback)

In this visionary book, Paul Schafer makes a compelling case for a new approach to global development. He argues that culture in all of its many forms needs to be brought into balance with the longstanding economic imperatives of products and profits that have for so long preoccupied the citizens of Planet Earth. He proposes that we need to achieve an equilibrium between the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of life. He states that “this would require a fundamental change in our beliefs, behaviour, customs, actions and lifestyles such as placing a higher value on people and values”.

In advancing his bold proposition for a more caring, sharing, creative and sustainable world, Schafer reflects on his own personal history of encountering cultural influences at an early age. His childhood exposure to and experiences with artistic culture make a powerful case that every child should have access to a comprehensive education in the arts.To have been encouraged as a child to participate in a wide range of artistic expressions shaped his life and his profound belief in the need for a paradigm shift.

We are living at a time when growing importance is being placed on creativity and innovation. This book suggests the positive lasting impact that could emerge from investing in arts education as the foundation for the stimulation of the creativity which exists in all of us. I have no doubt that before long a more culturally literate population will become powerful advocates for the necessity of a transition to the “Age of Culture” which Paul Schafer has so persuasively proposed.

JOHN HOBDAY C.M. Former Director, Canada Council for the Arts. Currently, Vice-Chair of the Canadian Network for Arts and Learning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Turning Marxism on Its Head while Retaining its Critical Perspective, 2 July 2014
This review is from: The Age of Culture (Paperback)
Schafer's work is completely unique. he is the only writer today, of whom I am aware, who combines together culture and economics in a way in which the former subsumes the latter. he therefore turns Marxism on its head. Moreover. He does such in a way in which it becomes completely apparent that he is an economist by background, who has now become culturally wiser. This is is really a book that follows the signs of our times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cultivating the Culturescape, 10 Jun 2014
George F. Simons "at" (Mandelieu Napoule, Cote d'Azur, France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Age of Culture (Paperback)
Following up on the insights of his most recent book, Revolution or Renaissance, Paul Schafer has written a personal manifesto which he reflects his long engagement with arts and culture and his vision of what he believes to be a coming transformation, the arrival of a new world order. While the book abundantly cites experts in the field of economics and culture, it is the integration of these in the author's life story that makes it most compelling. We might also observe, that the use of one's personal story is one of the building blocks of the new cultural age that he goes on to describe.

Before coming to the world of culture, the author worked extensively as a professor of economics, which qualifies him to comment on how the world is currently shaped by economic theory and practice. The trick was to bring forth the richness of his cultural upbringing, with significant familial emphasis on the arts, and his abiding interest in them and interface this with the mechanics of capital. His economic savvy enables him to identify the problematical thinking and implementation of economic policy that has led the world to a very dangerous state, dominated by a philosophy of consumerism that bodes disaster by gutting our inner and outer ecology, both the energies of the human spirit as well as the resources of the earth on which we walk.

Is Schafer's vision too utopian? Even admitting this, one might add, "Of course, but isn't this what utopias are for, namely to make us reflect on the current state of our society, its direction and our the roles we play that may influence it.” We are faced with the juggernaut of integrated economic power and political posturing that have us swallowing their story, hook line and sinker. That means that insight must come by raising new perspectives and pointing out where the well-placed insertion of a lever may move the world we know. Leonard Cohen once sang, "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.” The trick of course is to identify where the cracks are and discover where and how to widen them to focus the spotlight on human happiness and creativity.

A great deal of the book has to do with why this transformation of society needs to take place. It tries to connect on a variety of levels from everyday insights to both contemporary and perennial spirituality and that enable us to see the world and our illusions about it for what they are.

How does one move from the dominating world order we know toward radically different future. How do we shift from the positivistic values system underwriting the current economy of markets and minds to a "literary, intellectual, (artistic humanistic) values system"? To let the light in, Schafer provides us with a model of the monopoly exercised by the "Present World Order and Dominant Value System", which deals with the arts either by seducing them into its service or marginalizing them. He compares it to "The Future World Order and Emerging Value System."

It is of the nature of art to produce the maximum effect with the minimum of resources. This points toward the attitude and practice desperately needed by our faltering ecology. Art has a unique capacity to speak directly to our whole being and tie our past, present and future together in a way that enhances our belonging and our solidarity. It's hard to argue with the holistic power of a drama, a poem, or a symphony that we share. Culture has many tangible manifestations that make up the context, the "container" in which we live together. It helps us create an understanding of the world and take the steps we need to change it in a benevolent fashion.

A change in world orders is quite an elephant to ingest, so where do we take the first bite. As not to leave us in wishful thinking, the author proposes a concrete agenda, namely the creation and cultivation of a “culturescape,” a landscape, as it were, a map of the cultural realities of the streets where we live. In introducing this concept Schafer compares our human community to a shattered mirror where each person has a piece large enough only to see his or her own reflection. For him the culturescape is a way of putting these pieces back together again, allowing us to make a cultural inventory that supports this community awareness.

Superimposing the diverse visions of individuals and groups we make visible what tends to be buried in the current world order, and we can see different potentials for human development. It is not science and surplus that provide the raw material for artistic endeavor, but the evolution of the human spirit’s aspiration for a higher form of life and our search for meaning. It is the conservation of the products of this aspiration, in all their diversity, that grounds us and urges us forward, not a global melding. Ars gratia humanitatis.
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The Age of Culture
The Age of Culture by D. Paul Schafer (Paperback - 26 May 2014)
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