To dismiss something because it seems obvious has been the source of many grievous errors even in the most concrete disciplines.
Entertainment. What is entertainment?
Something that stimulates your attention and emotional response.
Walking through the woods. That can be done in a receptive state.
Something that draws you in so you stop thinking about yourself.
Watching the squirrel leap over the cat as they walk on the same fence. Indeed. That would be very amusing to watch.
What you enjoy and do simply for its own sake.
Entertainment or amusement is a state we can in theory enter at will. Entertainment is a state of being. We also call it amusement, but it is the precursor to inspiration. When we become deeply absorbed in something in a passive way without exerting controlling effort, this is entertainment which is synonymous with entrainment.
Left to our own devices, without any of the institutions we have today, we would still be active beings. There is an inner urge to seek expression. Expression and diversion are balanced against each other. We seek diversion when expression is frustrated.
Everyone familiar with memetics? It’s like genetics, but of the mind. It is the behaviour of mental data and its transference and reproduction. We are actually constantly entertained. As Bill Hicks was fond of saying, “It’s just a ride.”, and the circuit is set up by a whole array of sources and agents. Each day we tap into one form of information network or another, even if it’s just word of mouth, and even neuropsychiatry is proving that we are naturally “plugged in” creatures. We function naturally, and at our best, when we feel connected. The consequences of complete disconnection, in the long run, are lethal. So even if it’s just your friend telling you a story and you are listening carefully, you are entertained.
Now the passive part matters, being receptive. It takes intention to be receptive. Otherwise, we are naturally expressive creatures. So when you get passive / receptive, you give over your ideo-motor response to whatever it is you have focused your attention on. You don’t just watch or listen to anything. You are also in a sense doing it, and what you are consistently entertained by you become well practiced in doing, like commercials. You bought that car many times before you bought the car.
You bought the sales pitch and remembered the ad? It has nothing to do with judgement. The inner portions of your mind are reflexive. The suggestion that something should be done is the same thing as it being done.
You mean you are strengthening neuro pathways? Yes. This is why you so often dream about things you watched on TV, or something you did in a passive way while awake that day, or you dream about things that have been constantly built up by exposure. Are you into soap operas? Odds are you experience a great deal of angst about social situations and relationships.
I guess dreams are entertainment too then? They are. Yes, indeed.
Catharsis? Catharsis only if it gets sufficiently stressed.
I’ve heard that every time you have a thought it gets easier to have that thought again. The good news is you can change yourself one thought at a time. Indeed, and I will not tell you that entertainment is bad. I‘m just illustrating the situation and the choices being made. Worship is entertainment. The officiating priest recites their litany or sermon, and you get to share his feelings about the topic.
It’s art, and art is expressive of the spirit. Good art energizes and renews. It can. When art clears away static then spirit flows more freely, but life imitates art.
But you said we are always entertaining ourselves. I did. It was the basis of animistic spirituality. Humanity watched the other species and the weather regularly. They even dreamed about them.
You mentioned earlier about expression and diversion. For many people expression is not available and people are all looking for diversion as a result. Yes. The force of entertainment / entrainment is irresistible. It effects other species as well as us.
Do we watch animals and weather as natural instinct for survival? We do, as well as watch each other for the same reason, but we don’t have to make the decision to do it.
Is survival the only reason? No. It is not the only reason. For the sake of simplicity, we will use shamans as a model. They had a great many different practices, but they are the oldest example of this role I intend to speak of. Shamans used to paint and chant and sing well before the rise of the priest.
Animals entertain themselves. There’s a squirrel that taunts one of my dogs, and she gets in mock battles with peacocks. Animals entertain each other, and are entertained by us as well. An emergent characteristic of this force I am speaking of is what they are now calling biophilia.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.