Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Occasionally, I come across articles that snag my attention like a needle-hook to yarn.  As I like to read things from many ideological perspectives, these may or may not come from sources to which the reader corresponds.  It's old-fashioned of me to do this, I suppose, as we live in an era when we are to condemn anyone who disagrees with us, but I prefer to look at our world from as many perspectives as possible in order to come to my own understanding of our cultural issues.

[I hear my Scottish cousin saying, "Oh, hark at him".]

If you have read more than one posting on The Coracle, I suspect that you agree.

Anyway, from a review of a D-List musician's memoirs:
Shared reference is the definition of cultural identity, and America, like every other nation, is defined by what its citizens know in common. But is the key here what gets known, or the fact of its being known?

The old middlebrow knowledge, the aspirations to culture of the middle class as late as the early 1960s, can be discerned in everything from the leather-bound sets of Great Books to the classical themes that made up the background music to Bugs Bunny cartoons. We had a kind of consensus that the high arts, what the Kennedy Center used to celebrate, were the goal of cultural knowledge. And as that consensus died, the music of the Monkees became part of what took its place. The pop songs of the 1960s merged with the movies of the 1970s to fill the vacuum. And regardless of its quality it became the new shared knowledge.

Sometimes that quality was quite high, but it isn't Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven, and old episodes of I Dream of Jeannie are not Faust. If the key to culture is the greatness of the shared references, then we have no culture in America anymore. If the key is that something is genuinely shared, then we do have culture. We have the Monkees.