Saturday, September 20, 2003

I should add something to the end of my last post, and I think it's going to become a bit of a theme.
"The people are stupid" That includes everybody, including Ph.D.'s. So it's the responsibility of writers, or anyone who has an opinion not to cater to others but to speak. Democracy is an adversarial system. It's 'intelligence' comes from debate. There is a middle ground between conservatives' cynical and self serving contempt for the people, and the absurdities of Chomskian idealism. When self described intellectuals, especially the academic variety, come to realize this, we'll have a viable political culture again. We've been so rich for so long, we didn't need it.
A need for popularity is neither a sin nor a moral burden in a democracy, it's only a fact. Britney Spears is popular, or she was, but Shakespeare still is. Prince is a genius. Bjork escapes definition in a way that almost nobody understands but that almost everybody gets. Movies are more popular than fine arts and, these days especially, they're better. Literature, which I think stands as the highest artistic achievement of democracy, has always been capable of being both popular and serious (if not always at the same time) but I've heard enough graduate student conversation drift from critical jargon to the effusive commentary of teenage fandom to realize that most young academics in this country have no understanding of how it's possible for something to be both.

Our culture is divided more than any other advanced democracy, much more even than England, into categories of high and low.

more later.

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