This morning, while dealing with a brand-new washing machine spewing out soapy water all over the garage floor, I’ve come across a number of articles bemoaning the death of culture.
The first one was at American Digest’s Sidelines,
Our culture has continued to slide giggling into the pit.
It is now thirty years since you last heard anyone hum a tune from a current popular song.
Concerts of serious music rarely include anything less than half a century old. Very few of us could name a living painter or architect. Entire years pass when no American outside the academy spontaneously quotes a line of verse written by any American poet younger than Elizabeth Bishop (b. 1911), or a British poet younger than Philip Larkin (b. 1922). The middlebrow novel is slipping into extinction. Movies are an extension of the comic-book industry; only TV drama shows occasional flashes of brilliance. The churches are branch offices of Globalist Multiculturalism, Inc.: the Episcopal church in my sleepy, 360-year-old Long Island town advertises Misa en Español. A Report from the Conservative Movement’s Dustbin – The Unz Review
Inclined as I am towards ancient music, non-fiction books, and not going to church, the moaning about “It is now thirty years since you last heard anyone hum a tune from a current popular song” tells me that the person who wrote that doesn’t have young children incessantly playing the brainworm-inducing Happy and Let It Go. Never mind that up until a couple of years ago the only living painter most people could name was Thomas Kincaid, the Leonardo of QVC.
The second is Joshua Cohen’s review, Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘Notes on the Death of Culture’. Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society is Vargas Llosa’s latest book, where he bemoans “our” lack of common culture, deploring “The Civilization of the Spectacle,” an essay I read while my mom was looking at Vargas Llosa himself on the cover of ¡Hola!. Don Mario was having lunch with his latest mistress, Julio Iglesias’s first wife, and pop! the paparazzi caught the spectacle.
The third was this beaut from Boer Deng at the WaPo, Ballet is more diverse than ever. Why is the audience still so white?
Changes to American ballet go beyond Misty Copeland. Ms Deng is uniquely ignorant of the several principal dancers of Spanish and South American ancestry at the NYCB & the ABT over the decades, and insultingly ignorant of this.
Yes, there is a coarsening of society in general. If you, my gentle reader, are bothered by it, don’t sponsor and don’t frequent those engaged in what bothers you. Continue to engage and support that art which feeds your soul, and bring a friend or two when you do. (While you are at it, you may buy Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society through my Amazon links.)
If you want to be more proactive, The Western Canon and The Educated Child are two good resources. Dress up, including during travel. Come up with something that promotes the culture you appreciate.
As for the rest, I agree with Joshua Cohen when he says, “Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”
Blogging on Latin America shall resume shortly.
Linked to by American Digest. Thank you!
Rob De Witt says
I’m 70, self-taught (and regularly employed) as a singer of Bach and the American songbook; art is something I make, and choose, for myself.
It’s relatively easy, I’ve found, to avoid the “culture” if one has the common sense to keep any and all televisions at a distance. If I still had children, homeschooling would be the only possible option to inoculate them from just the empty-headedness you describe. You are surely a saint.
Thank you for your kind words, Rob, but no saint here.
I actually envy people who can sing. I couldn’t carry a tune if you loaded it on my backpack!