Sunday, August 28, 2005

John Carey: The Intellectual and the Masses
John Cary's book seems to have given the literary pot a big stir - and rightly so. Michael Allen has written a perceptive summary of Cary's argument on his blog Grumpy Old Bookman.
One point which was neglected by Cary and which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere is that much of what is claimed as elite culture - in art as well as literature - originally started life with the intention of cracking the smug facade of the "culture establishment" in its own time. The writers and artists were derided, ridiculed, and attacked for what they created, and for challenging elite cultural values. It was only after time, when "sausage machine" culture had safely redefined and repackaged it for popular culture - turning it into a commodity whenever possible - that such works which were once avant-garde were transformed into elite cultural forms. Still I've said enough, read Michael's excellent piece.