Monday, September 22, 2008

More on More More

Still re-reading Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence. It is a lot to take in. Scarfed Anathem in less than three days (granted, that did affect my productivity at work) and that is almost 100 pages longer. Maybe the font is smaller in Barzun’s book.

Regardless. This time around, I am finding the descriptions of Romanticism far more interesting than I did on the first read. I notice in particular M. Barzun’s evaluation of the movements that followed as siblings rather than successor descendants. That is, he describes Realism, Naturalism, and Symbolism as all aspects of Romanticism - which got me to thinking in terms of the big project being to reassemble everything we have done since 1800 or so back into one thing. Nice to think about, but it might require footnotes. Not my department. I need to get Megan on board with this stuff.

This morning as I sat in my car reading in the parking lot, I came across an interesting passage on page 513. The context is a discussion of how much stuff was produced in the 19th century.

"The enabling condition of the plethora was what one may term the 'cultural courage' of Romanticism. Its makers were not afraid of failure–nor of being foolish. They did not exercise caution to look acceptable, dignified, 'mature' or 'realistic.'"

Now, these days we don’t have any trouble with that. As an example I point to my regret that my computer circumstances prevent me from linking the word "plethora" to the scene in the Three Amigos regarding whether the bad guy has a plethora of pinatas. Given that we have no trouble with being foolish, should we confront instead a fear of looking acceptable, dignified, "mature" or "realistic?"

ps - Further thought on the "Official Verse Culture." My immediate concern with Charles Bernstein’s characterization and critique of official verse culture is that he was focusing on what the institution does - the taste exhibited and the poems selected. Why do we need to care? Why grant the institutions and the Permanent Art Council such relevance? Let them do whatever they feel like. It is their power and money to do with as they please. You don’t have to care.

This morning on the drive in I heard about how advertisers are paying to have products integrated into storylines on TV shows. Some are outraged. (A) How is this new? ("Drink More Ovaltine!"), (B) If it is done well, perhaps it will be less irritating than commercial breaks, and (C) I haven’t watched television, except for the Tour de France with my fella, in six months or so, and haven’t really missed it. If you don’t like the rules, play a different game. If there isn't a different game to play, start one.

pps - All hail Ze Frank for having a Twitter account devoted to tiny bedtime stories. I have a new hobby and an increased joy in life.

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