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Showing posts from June 13, 2004
Bollettino When LI was in a graduate school in philosophy, one of the philosophers we didn’t read was Leo Strauss. We did read, and we continue to read, a lot of the great conservative writers. There’s no better tonic for a lefty. But Strauss never struck us as an essential figure. Well, he struck others as one – notably conservatives. So we should have paid more attention. And we have, in a scattered fashion, tried to get some idea of Strauss. This is why we were interested by a link on Eric Alterman’s blog to this exposition of Strauss by Nicholas Xenos , on . It is an unrelievedly hostile assessment of Strauss from an unapologetically liberal viewpoint. We have nothing against this. Xenos knows his sources, obviously, and is familiar with the “Straussians.” Yet Xenos seems not to understand, or to willfully misunderstand, the ways and customs of conservative thought in the post World War I period in which Strauss came to maturity as a thinker. His root fault is to confuse fascis
Bollettino What is an elite, and how does it differ from, say, any group? This is the question that any artist has to ask himself about his audience. There is a disconcerting habit, in this country, to confuse the scale of one’s audience with the issue of elitism, as though only those works of art that extend to the largest scale – the movie Titanic, for instance – are truly “popular.” In one sense, this idea is sheer nonsense – we know that the manipulation of the audience actually produces less popular art, insofar as that art then gets run through a bureaucracy of ‘experts’ in public taste. The result is that a smaller set of themes and variations, and a smaller set of makers, gets chosen to produce the supposedly more ‘popular’ works or art. This leads, too, to thinner and thinner responses – art that doesn’t please immediately is selected out, in favor of art that does. The immediacy of effect and the popularity of the artwork are malignly coupled – deadending in the MTV v
Notes My friend, the Brooding Person, publishes a rather hasty epistle from LI. Bollettino “It is manifest that the sociology of knowledge is concerned with problems which have had a long prehistory. So far is this true, that the discipline has already found its first historian, Ernst Gruenwald. As he properly indicates, some of its dominant conceptions are simply more systematic and more clearly formulated restatements of views which found expression in the writings of Francis Bacon (see his discussion of the Idola), to trace them no further back. In this same tradition, marking the intellectual optimism of the Enlightenment in asmuch as it assumed that man is capable of acquiring valid knowledge concerning all problems but does not do so merely because of disturbing factors, is Voltaire’s doctrine of the priestly lie. From this view that man, who can know the truth, Is lead to conscious dissimulation by his interests (economic, the will to power, etc.), it is not a far cry t