Knausgaard on the zeitgeist

“We see the world without being aware of our way of seeing it, those two things are often one and the same to us. It feels as if we are living in an unmediated reality, and when someone mediates it for us, which is what artists do, they often portray it in ways that correspond so closely to our own perception of reality that we confuse them too.

This applies to what we pay attention to and consider essentials, it applies to notions we hold about people and the world, it applies to the use of language and imagery.

If we were to look at a daily TV newscast from 1977, for example, we notice at once the clothes, which are different in ways that often make us smile, and the hairdos and the spectacles. We notice the way people express themselves, which seems stiffer and more formal than what we are used to now, and we notice the unbelievably parochial and innocent news coverage. But back then, in 1977, no one noticed any of this. The tone of the 1970s didn’t exist, because everything and everyone belonged to the 70s, everyone shared the style of clothing, the hairdos, the design of the spectacles, the manner of speech, the field of interest. All of this is part of a shared space, it is what we call the zeitgeist, the spirit of the time, which is also what we express ourselves through.”

Karl Ove Knausgaard in So Much Longing in So Little Space