Adrenaline and other Moods

I just saw the new Tomb Raider movie, and I enjoyed it.  It was excitement from the beginning to the end.  But I’m mildly disturbed that I enjoyed it.  I am disturbed because of the emotions that the film evoked.  There seemed to be one feeling only, excitement.  But it was an excitement born of fear; it wasn’t a happy excitement–it was an excitement derived from fear that Laura Croft might not get out of the predicament she was in.  It was adrenaline from start to finish.

I have wondered why it is hard for me to watch old movies like The Sound of Music, or even The Wizard of Oz.  At first I thought that it was cinematography.  I thought that I was so used to the millions of cuts cuts in contemporary films, which make a 30 second scene seem long. that I can’t watch old films in which the camera lingers on its subject for longer periods of time.  I thought that was what was making me restless when I watch old films.

But I now think that the reason is more distressing.  Maybe the reason I can’t watch old films is because the emotions they evoke are calmer, more peaceful.  If I am used to feeling non-stop adrenaline, how can I watch a film which is based on happy family life, or the still beauty of the Austrian Alps, and pleasant songs sung by Julie Andrews?  It is a distressing thought that contemporary emotional climate is based on excitement and adrenaline.  That culture no longer feels the calm, the still, the peace of Julie Andrews singing in the Alps.

This theory also explains why symphony halls are experiencing difficulty keeping their doors open.  It may be that the emotions evoked by, say, a Beethoven symphony are extinct in contemporary society.  Maybe people don’t listen to Beethoven anymore because the emotions that Beethoven calls up have vanished from society today.  While music that consists of short musical  motifs on top of a pulsating beat matches the pulsating adrenaline driven passions of society today.

So I wonder, has society lost sublime feelings?  Am I right that anxiety and adrenaline are fueling contemporary emotional life?  Is this why symphony halls are losing audiences?  Why mainline churches are dwindling while Evangelical churches which feature praise rock bands are filled?  Why I enjoyed Tomb Raider and have difficulty with The Sound of Music?

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