Monday, July 12, 2004

3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Ellington's better. I wish I was the kind of person who preferred Ellington.
I wasn't going to take the bait until I read that line by Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul.

Of course there are people who would choose Tchaikovsky over Bach, so there's no point in arguing. But Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Which example of borderline kitsch do you prefer? (I'd go for Chopin.)
I won't run through the whole thing, partly because I'm too embarrassed by my blind spots, but also because even acknowledging them, there's something about the whole thing that's annoying. Teachout's comparisons reduce intellectual and even moral issues to matters of taste.

Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven? - The Formally rigorous, the theatrically well mannered, or the great reach with an unsure grasp.
Jane Austin or Henry James? The observer, or the voyeur?
Picasso between 1906 and about 1918 is unbeatable in the last century, if not before, but he faded, while Matisse aged gracefully; the late cut-outs are brilliant mannerism. Still the more interesting questions remain:  Picasso or Duchamp? Ellington, or Stravinsky?
And for the hell of it, for my old teacher Tom Gunning, though at the time I didn't understand:
D.W. Griffith, or the great, great, Louis Feuillade?
The last is just for fun. I think I've made my point.

Finally since TT has been nominated by Dear Leader to serve on the NEA, and since he himself obviously is either a same-sexer or on good terms with a few,  he should do the honorable thing and use his new position to speak out against the cruel discrimination faced by his friends.

The best thing I can say about Teachout is that he reminds me how often I wish Daniel Mendelsohn had a blog.

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