21. January 2009 · Comments Off on All day I face the barren waste … · Categories: General

… without a taste / of culture / cool .. culture. [1]

If you thought the response to Hurricane Katrina, the IRS and the DMV were bad, just wait until the government gets it’s piddy-paws on ‘culture’ …

By yesterday, 76,000 people had signed an online petition, started by two New York musicians who were inspired by producer Quincy Jones. In a radio interview in November, Jones said the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany or Finland has. And he said he would “beg” Obama to establish the post.

If the government was responsible for culture we’d never have had have Hee-Haw.  And that would be a tragedy.[2]

“We are not quite sure, especially in this environment, what the secretary of the arts could provide, but foremost is advocacy for arts education and awareness of the financial rewards the arts bring to a community,” said Weitzner, the host of a chamber music series at the Brooklyn Public Library.

“We want to get some of the gravy for stuff we like instead of seeing all the money go to hillbilly music and those rock and roll fellows.”

“A month ago at my high school in Seattle, I asked a student if he knew who Louis Armstrong was. He said he had heard his name. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot,” Jones said.

Aw, man.  Jones is hurt because kids choose to listen to Beyonce instead of Louis Armstrong. 

Everyone – let’s give him a salary and a position and an official bully-pulpit to shame us for liking stuff that is hip and cool and with it.

Or, let’s not and reflect on the wisdom of Ralph Peters instead …

It is fashionable among world intellectual elites to decry “American culture,” with our domestic critics among the loudest in complaint. But traditional intellectual elites are of shrinking relevance, replaced by cognitive-practical elites–figures such as Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Madonna, or our most successful politicians–human beings who can recognize or create popular appetites, recreating themselves as necessary. Contemporary American culture is the most powerful in history, and the most destructive of competitor cultures. While some other cultures, such as those of East Asia, appear strong enough to survive the onslaught by adaptive behaviors, most are not. The genius, the secret weapon, of American culture is the essence that the elites despise: ours is the first genuine people’s culture. It stresses comfort and convenience–ease–and it generates pleasure for the masses. We are Karl Marx’s dream, and his nightmare.

Secular and religious revolutionaries in our century have made the identical mistake, imagining that the workers of the world or the faithful just can’t wait to go home at night to study Marx or the Koran. Well, Joe Sixpack, Ivan Tipichni, and Ali Quat would rather “Baywatch.” America has figured it out, and we are brilliant at operationalizing our knowledge, and our cultural power will hinder even those cultures we do not undermine. There is no “peer competitor” in the cultural (or military) department. Our cultural empire has the addicted–men and women everywhere–clamoring for more. And they pay for the privilege of their disillusionment.

American culture is criticized for its impermanence, its “disposable” products. But therein lies its strength. All previous cultures sought ideal achievement which, once reached, might endure in static perfection. American culture is not about the end, but the means, the dynamic process that creates, destroys, and creates anew. If our works are transient, then so are life’s greatest gifts–passion, beauty, the quality of light on a winter afternoon, even life itself. American culture is alive.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

[1] Tip o’ the hat to the Sons of the Pioneers
[2] No, I’m not kidding.  Hee-Haw was sincere and funny and they had good music.

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