Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

A Little Reference Thing, on a Related Subject

with 3 comments

So the book is almost done, so close I  can see it, but it ISN’T done, and today I’ve got the dentist appointment from hell, so I’m a little scattered.

But I thought that this


might be interesting.

If you watch Arts and Letters Daily, it’s up there as a link this morning, but it occurs to me that this not only addresses some of the things I’ve been talking about here, but also that it highlights some of the problems of talking about it, although only accidentally.

Part of it is the matter of vocabulary–like the word “theory,” which means one thing in science and something else altogether in common usage, the word “taste” is being used here to mean something other than what we’re used to in ordinary conversation.

But then there’s the kicker, which is the tension in conservative circles between their political approach (which is populist) and their alliance with people whose commitment is to the maintaining of high, and therefore by their very nature at least somewhat exclusionary, standards. 

No matter what the rhetoric, the Amerian Spectator (from whence this article comes) does not survive by appealing to people like Roger Scruton (who wrote the article), but by appealing to people who would denounce him as an “elitist.” 

And he is an “elitist,” too.  In a certain sense of the word.

Beyong that, I just want to point out that saying that I want to read about real people in the real world with real problems does not necessitate the corollary that people who enjoy science fiction or fantasy don’t–hell, I said nothing about what people who  enjoy the stuff I don’t are actually getting out of it. 

I didn’t even bring up the canon.

Written by janeh

June 9th, 2009 at 8:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'A Little Reference Thing, on a Related Subject'

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  1. I’m really too tired after a sleepless night to make intelligent comments. The reader comments after Scruton’s article are as interesting as the article!

    My mercenary reaction is that I can not justify spending $25,000 to $40,000 or more a year to develop “taste” or “critical judgement” in literature or arts.

    But pehaps I ought to ask Jane what she means by “populist”?


    9 Jun 09 at 4:43 pm

  2. Saw that one–and I’ve seen almost the same reasoning–right down to the confusing usage of “taste”–years ago. The discouraging thing to me is that what seems to me a different logic chain than Jane’s leads to, as I understand it, very similar program.

    It is perhaps a flaw in me, but when two different lines of reasoning arrive at the same real-world fact, I regard the fact as more probable. When two different lines of argument prescribe the same policy, I wonder about the sincerity of the arguments. (The Ivy League ban on ROTC, where the reason changes but the ban remains, is an example.)

    As for the different elements of conservative America co-existing uneasily with one another, that’s quite true, and not at all surprising. The opponents of Hitler or Napoleon didn’t have much in common either. You get to be a “conservative” in America, since roughly FDR, by rejecting the liberals’ policy and vision of the future. Only when that movement is buried will we have the leisure to quarrel among ourselves.


    9 Jun 09 at 4:52 pm

  3. Speaking of Arts and Letters Daily, this article goes well with the one Jane cited.



    9 Jun 09 at 5:37 pm

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