Friday, November 17, 2006

Nobody does it better ...

... Bryan Appleyard interviews Clive James .

Rupert Murdoch may have said that it was "a patronising assumption to try to impose high culture," but that same attutude can be found in the academy as well. Think of all the arguments against dead white European male authors, etc.


  1. Anonymous8:36 AM

    And what is it I wonder to impose a diet of inanity and pornography as Murdoch has successfully done? "The non-stop distractions of the various forms ot hte media deliberatlely designed to prevent people from paying attention to the reality of the social and political suituation." Aldous Huxley- Brave New World Revisited. How kind of Murdoch and his ilk to take it upon themselves to dumb down the populations of the earth. Strikingly similar to the reasoning of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor. Murdoch and the gang take it upon themselves to relieve people of the troublesome burden of their freedom or capacity thereof.
    "The non-stop distractions of the various forms of the media deliberately designed to prevent people from paying attention to the reality of the social and political suituation." Aldous Huxley- Brave New World Revisited.

  2. Anonymous8:37 AM

    Oops, the editing of that didn't quite go according to plan.

  3. I still don't see why Murdoch - whose Fox Network, after all, has given us The Simpsons - should be singled out. The Times of London, so far as I can see, is a very good newspaper. That a newspaper entrepreneur would be in favor of cultural leveling is hardly news. That professors of literature and cultural critics would is news. And not good news. On most campuses these day none dare call himself elitist.
    Forty years ago, at the University of Dayton, I confronted the then Stokely Carmichael after a talk he had given in which he roundly asserted that the music of Ray Charles was greater than that of Schubert or Beethoven. I take no back seat to anyone when it comes to being a Ray Charles fan, but I suggested to Carmichael that his was a sentiment Ray himself probably did not share, if only because Ray and Ludwig and Franz were doing somewhat different things with music. I thought the latter two would have liked Ray's music and Ray doubtless liked theirs (he did). Rachmaninoff was a passionate Art Tatum fan. Carmichael responded with a revolutionist's boilerplate and I told him, in similarly coarse terms, that I thought he was a fool. My colleagues at the university thought I was a reactionary elitist.
    Murdoch and newspapers reflect the society they cater to. They do not create that society.

  4. Anonymous11:14 AM

    The Times is merely one aspect of Murdoch's empire though. In this part of the owrld, he is the big player with nmoone else remotely in hte same field, and with his SKY television he has somehow managed to instil the silent revolution of beaming in pornography amongst much other dross, into the homes of Britain and Ireland, though of course his network is global. Without Murdoch presumably someone else would have been found to fill the void but the effect of this kind of saturation of distractions upon humanity is to keep consciousness at a low ebb. Whether this is by intent or design is a different matter.

  5. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Though agreed as regards elitism, Frank, I'm not advocating a force feeding of high culture on people who have not been brought up to suddenly have such an interest. My hope would be the kind of total education of the self as shown in something like Huxley's Island. With the goal and inevitable results of a heightened level of awareness and capacity for personal freedom. Such freedom is impossible for a people force-fed a diet of tabloid culture, which is of the intellectual level of perhaps an insane four year old.

  6. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Have you read Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment? He spends a good deal of space distinguishing between "judgment" and "sentiment" in the arts. Seems to apply to the discussion. I have a soft spot for The A-Team (yes, the one with Mr. T), but I am aware that this has to do with my associating it with my youth and so on, and not only wouldn't I compare it to Hamlet, I am also aware of just how bad it is. It doesn't even compare well to works in its own genre. Of course, in terms of quality and mastery of craft, Ray Charles is closer to Beethoven than The A-Team is to Hamlet. But the point is, the power of sentiment, nostalgia, spirit of the times, all that, is substantial and often leads to praising contemporary works beyond their worth (just look at book and movie blurbs and the use of "great" in general). There might sometimes be the reverse--excessively valuing something because it came first. Murray's critics might make that case. But time usually sorts this stuff out, and Murray, of course, whatever else you think of him or his work, tries to answer all objections.

  7. Anonymous12:14 PM

    The A Team was a hell of a lot better than CHIPS though. Even as a five year old I remember despising that programme.