Wednesday, May 10, 2017

So crazy it might just work …

… A Center for Cultural Renewal

 - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

imagine young people reciting, for audiences who have never heard the like, dramatic monologues by Browning or Tennyson; imagine people who were born in New Hampshire hearing, for the first time in their lives, the narrative poetry of Robert Frost performed by youngsters who have learned to love it.

1 comment:

  1. I feel for Professor Esolen, who lost his job because he uttered secular heresy. How pathetic that a university can't handle a professor stirring up a little trouble.

    But based on that piece, I fear he's shell-shocked from being on the front lines of a culture war for so long:

    "All of the arts have gone sour; poetry, the first and highest art of man, has degenerated into political posturing, in verse without form and meter."

    This is true only if you read big, mainstream journals like Poetry that perpetuate the worst, most derivative blank verse. A conservative culture warrior ought to have known about the New Formalism of the '80s and '90s, which has given way to a largely apolitical formal revival and several good journals. Esolen would like, for example, A.E. Stallings and A.M. Juster, among many others. And the poetry recitations he says he wants to revive are already happening! Thanks to Dana Gioia, millions of children have memorized and recited poetry. They show the competition on television.

    But I'm not convinced by his overall claim that "all the arts have gone sour." I attend and support two Shakespeare theaters, and I scout out local artists' communities wherever I go. Political posturing, though present and noticeable, is a minority interest. The attorney I know who helps run a chamber-music society in the Midwest would probably agree with me that high art and fine art haven't "gone sour"; rather, they've been neglected by a culture that's opting for cheap and easy corporate entertainment. I like Esolen's passion, but keeping high culture alive is an off-campus problem, not one that our nutty university culture caused, and not one that changes in university culture will solve.