Tuesday, October 04, 2005

In honor of Mark's birthday, a few sentences from Andreas Huyssen's After the Great Divide that do plenty to explain both Jonathan Franzen and Ben Marcus' response to him; it may even speak somewhat to the Bob Dylan controversy:
[M]ass culture indeed seems to be repressed other of modernism, the family ghost rumbling in the cellar. Modernism, on the other hand, often chided by the left as the elitist, arrogant and mystifying master-code of bourgeois culture while demonized by the right as the Agent Orange of natural social cohesion, is the strawman desperately needed by the system to provide an aura of popular legitimation for the blessings of the culture industry. Or, to put it differently, as modernism hides its envy for the broad appeal of mass culture behind a screen of condescension and contempt, mass culture, saddled as it is with pangs of guilt, yearns for the dignity of serious culture which forever eludes it. (17)

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