Meaning ... nothing.
This seems to be the proper place in this column to call upon Chris Anderson's
Long Tail, or perhaps Steven Johnson's sleeper
curve. Anderson's metaphor suggests that all of us who reside outside of the
mainstream still have a chance of being discovered (and then blessedly become
part of that same mainstream that until then we viewed so condescendingly). Johnson
identifies a trend toward more complexity in popular culture. Contrary to popular
belief, he sees popular culture as becoming more "cognitively challenging".
I call this long-term trend the Sleeper Curve, after
that famous Woody Allen joke from his mock sci-fi film where a team of scientists
from 2029 are astounded that 20th-century society failed to grasp the nutritional
merits of cream pies and hot fudge.
And of course the subtext to this trend is that those who may be too complex for
today's popular taste may one day, as our culture develops toward them, find themselves
part of a cultural consensus.
There are probably numerous elitist catch-phrases that all derive from the same
rather lame attempt to show that not being discovered or appreciated in your lifetime
is actually a sign of quality. It's a wonderful myth to adhere to. But it's still
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