State of the arts

Bryan Caplan on Tyler Cowen on the state of the arts:

From the standpoint of the consumer, the supply of great art has clearly never been better. And even from the standpoint of the producer, it is easy to argue that, overall, this is the best of times.

From Caplan's five points on why that is:

5. One of Tyler's best points: The past often looks better than the present if you compare the best to the best. There is no living composer as great as Bach. Nevertheless, the present looks much better than the past if you compare the fifth-best to the fifth-best. Who even wants to listen to the fifth-best Baroque composer? But the fifth-best punk rock band (say, the Dead Kennedys) is excellent.

That's almost certainly true for television. In music, thought CD sales are down, distribution via the Internet means I can more easily discover new music than in the days when radio was my primary means of exposure.

I'm less certain about the quality of movies overall, but there's no doubt that accessing classic movies via DVD and services like Netflix has broadened my viewing canvas in a huge way.