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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

An honest cultural critic

28 11 11 - 20:44

Shades of what happened to those of us who tried to explore masskultur:


Despite his sharp eye for targets, Macdonald often drew a bazooka when a pistol would do. In part, his overblown rhetoric reflects the exigencies of another time, when the world was divisible into axes and alliances, a Manichaean system set on purging itself of the enemies within. “The enemy outside the gates is easy enough to repel,” he would say in an interview. “But when you have fifth columnists inside culture, inside high culture, then it becomes more difficult tactically.” Another of Macdonald’s metaphors has all the charm of a eugenicist’s manifesto: “The danger to High Culture is not so much from Masscult as from a peculiar hybrid bred from the latter’s unnatural intercourse with the former.” By the end of “Masscult and Midcult,” Macdonald’s warnings about “the danger to High Culture” are so noisy and distraught that they bring to mind Dr. Strangelove’s General Ripper, bug-eyed and beaded in a cold-war sweat, squawking about foreign substances poisoning our precious bodily fluids.

Macdonald envisioned two possible solutions to the impasse: conquest or détente. Either the masses would be folded into High Culture (an impossibility, according to everything else he wrote) or High and Low would find a way to live and let live (even in this latter scenario, the “fifth column” of Midcult was still a problem). What he didn’t foresee was how quickly such distinctions would cease to matter. The postmodern blob was coming; artists like Andy Warhol were about to explode the walls Macdonald had been so jealously guarding. Citing the profusion in the ’60s of such unclassifiable works as Sgt. Pepper’s and Portnoy’s Complaint, Menand writes:


The old hierarchical schemes didn’t work on this stuff, and there emerged a fresh critical mode, articulated by critics like Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael, that was specifically designed to engage with it, to evaluate it, and to make it interesting to educated people. A great river of pop, camp, playful, performative, outrageous, over-the-top cultural products flooded the scene, and Macdonald’s system of cultural judgment was left stranded on the far shore.


Even before the pop-cultural upheaval of the ’60s, Macdonald clung to art created before 1930, unable to appreciate the strains of Modernism that developed in the decades that followed, scoffing at everything from Abstract Expressionism (“globs and gloobs”) to the lean prose of Samuel Beckett (“minutia”). He also had a predilection, perhaps not surprising for a man of his time, for a certain type of virile authorial presence, which a “lady novelist” like Virginia Woolf failed to satisfy. (He said he preferred George Eliot, “whom I really don’t consider a woman writer at all.”) In interviews and essays, Macdonald used words like “impatient” and “bored” to convey his reaction to any work that didn’t suit his self-described “classical” tastes. - The Nation


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band isn't one dimensional sugar pop, but it's two dimensional pop. It has both simplicity and irony. It thinks it is unique and an outsider voice. Instead, it is like every other voice, calling out "pity me, it's not my fault, it's the fault of... the Others... and don't judge me, I'm equal."

seven comments

fucking delusional
>Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ... thinks it is unique and an outsider voice. Instead, it is like every other voice, calling out "pity me, it's not my fault, it's the fault of... the Others... and don't judge me, I'm equal."

What. The. FUCK.

Where do you aspies get this stuff?! fucking delusional - 29-11-’11 01:31
DLA Reviews
_Hvis Lyset Tar Oss_ isn't one dimensional sugar pop, but it's two dimensional pop. It has both simplicity and irony. It thinks it is unique and an outsider voice. Instead, it is like every other voice, calling out "pity me, it's not my fault, it's the fault of... the Others... and don't judge me, I'm equal." DLA Reviews - 29-11-’11 02:32
Wow
Can't imagine how you tolerate all the idiotic comments on your posts. Wow - 29-11-’11 06:42
Herschel Goldstein
Yea Vijay, if your so elitist at least have a goddamn capatcha and registration requirement. Herschel Goldstein (URL) - 29-11-’11 07:53
the crying dork
BAWWWWWW SOMEONE SAW THROUGH MY SHITTY BLACK METAL AND SAID THAT IT SUCKS, BOO HOO the crying dork - 29-11-’11 11:05
@ fucking delusional
did you read The Nation article? @ fucking delusional - 30-11-’11 18:38
AIDS Victim
The comments make people turn from liberalism. AIDS Victim (Email ) - 30-11-’11 21:42


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