Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Third Time’s The Charm. Maybe.

with 2 comments

Every once in a while, I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something.

Today, I wrote a post for this blog, which died when the computer froze up.

Then I wrote a second post of this blog, on the same subject, and accidentally deleted the entire thing when I was trying to copy it onto the post form.

I was writing about a book by Theodore Dalrymple called The New Vichy Syndrome:  Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism, and my general thrust was that somebody had foisted the title on him.

This is a man who is passionately committed to the principle that there are objective standards in art, that high art is among the greatest achievements of civilization, and that any educated person who prefers murder mysteries to Shakespeare and Kellie Pickler to Mozart is not just wrong, but doing something that is positively shameful.

It’s an interesting book on a number of levels, not the least of which is his feeling that the assault on art comes from three sources:  the aggressiveness of modern popular culture; the modern phenomenon of Islamic radicalism; and the people who now call themselves “artists” and “novelists” who produce things like Piss Christ and atonal “symphonies” and all the rest of the mindnumbing crap that makes up the contemporary “elite” art world.

But he’s also got no use for the endless bashing of “elitism” by contemporary conservative political movements, either.

Maybe I am just drawn to this thing by the fact that he is one of the very few other people who seems to be like me–neither on the left or the right of modern political thought, and definitely in favor of the life of the mind in general and the high art tradition in particular while not being in any way the American version of “liberal.”

Or, worse, “progressive.”  Have the people who call themselves “progressives” actually looked into the Progressive Movement?

Never mind.  This is try three, and I’m going at it mostly because it’s begun to feel personal, this thing with the disappearing posts.

If there’s a drawback to Dalrymple’s book, it’s that he never actually reaches any conclusions about why Europe is doing what it’s doing.  He certainly has no solutions he’s even interested in offering.

I don’t know why I think he should have them.

I’m going to give this another shot now.  I’ve replaced the Mozart with Telemann.  I have tea.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Written by janeh

March 13th, 2010 at 9:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Third Time’s The Charm. Maybe.'

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  1. You made it!

    Years ago I had a friend who called herself a progressive. When I said that whether a policy was progressive depended, among other things, whether the object at which it was aimed was an improvement on the current situation, she left me with the impression that of course all ‘progressive’ policies were intended to produce progress towards a better situation. I couldn’t buy that at all. I’m sure she didn’t mean it this way (she was and is very intelligent) but it was as though labelling something ‘progressive’ meant it would improve things in the long run, and I didn’t agree.


    13 Mar 10 at 10:22 am

  2. Vichy Syndrome. There is an old joke about a tightwad who is told by his doctor that the X-rays indicate he needs immediate and expensive surgery. The tightwad asks “how much would it cost to fix the X-rays?”
    The Euro intellectuals–and many closer to home–know that if they concluded that radical Islam and the dada school of the arts were threats, the obvious countermeasures would be unpleasant or worse–restricting immigration or pushing assimilation, setting up a standard for art to receive a public subsidy and defending that standard–or (shiver) going without taxpayer funds. Rather than do these things, they’re doctoring the X-rays. Defending themselves against conservative critics of government art is much more congenial, and they’ll do that.
    It’s not anything new: take a look at British defense estimates between the World Wars.


    14 Mar 10 at 1:48 pm

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