All this from the weblog of Terry Teachout, our reliable guide to drama and arts in the Wall Street Journal.
Citing the author ofthe new Everything You Thought was Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us
Smarter,and Emergence: The Connected Lives
of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software:
But I would think there are actually fewer intelligent
people watching TV now because the intelligent people are all, you
know, writing on their weblog or something.
Steven Johnson, CBC interview
Here, Henry James' hopes for the chimera that is American thought and art:
I think that to be an American is an excellent
preparation for culture. We have exquisite qualities as a race, and it
seems to me that we are ahead of the European races in the fact that
more than either of them we can deal freely with forms of civilisation
not our own, can pick and choose and assimilate and in short
(aesthetically &c) claim our property wherever we find it. To have
no national stamp has hitherto been a defect & a drawback; but I
think it not unlikely that American writers may yet indicate that a
vast intellectual fusion and synthesis of the various National
tendencies of the world is the condition of more important achievements
than any we have seen. We must of course have something of our
own—something distinctive & homogeneous—& I take it that we
shall find it in our 'moral consciousness,' our unprecedented spiritual
lightness and vigour. In this sense at least we shall have a national cachet.—I
expect nothing great during your lifetime or mine perhaps: but my
instincts quite agree with yours in looking to see something original
and beautiful disengage itself from our ceaseless fermentation and
Henry James, Letter to Thomas Sergeant Perry (Sept. 20, 1867)
And I think to myself, what a wonderful man he must have been:
...But I always let the other fellow talk about art. 'Cause
when we was doing it, we was just glad to be working up on that stage.
So for me to be still on earth to hear that word, sounds pretty good.
I'm just grateful for every little iota. Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong—A Self-Portrait