The most interesting cultural news in today’s
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>New York Times comes not in the business
section, where I’d usually expect to find it, but in the national news. There’s
on the new popularity of curling, after the Olympics, which I certainly can
relate to, because my wife and I got fascinated by it. We’re not alone. As the
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>Times reports, the United States Curling
Association’s website actually crashed, because so many people wanted to look
at it. (I was one of them.)
So the piece talks about all the reasons people like
curling. It’s a game of strategy; it’s all about finesse; you don’t even have
to be a fabulous athlete to join a team and play it. Plus there’s a deep vein
of sportsmanship, with players (just for instance) calling their own fouls.
And then, at the close of the piece, came this: "This
is so cool," said one new curling fan they’d interviewed, and who had signed
up for a learn-to-curl session next month. "Plus it’s a very obscure thing
to say you do."
A very obscure thing. And this is a
virtue. Which doesn’t surprise me. That’s one of the
trends in current culture. Because there’s so much available — so many tastes,
so many lifestyles, so many different kinds of everything — many people don’t
necessarily make the popular choices, and in fact there’s great cachet in
getting into something other people don’t know about.
And that’s good news for classical music. The very fact that
it’s not popular can very well impel some people to give it a try. I’ve been
thinking, in fact, that we’re often too defensive about our cultural position. Classical
music students I’ve met, for instance, sometimes say they feel they’re going to
be looked at as hopeless geeks. But I don’t think that’s true. If you play
classical music, and the people you know aren’t classical music fans, that
might well make you interesting. So yes, maybe we have an uphill fight to gain
wider attention for what we do, and to find a new audience, but that very fact —
in today’s culture, or at least among younger people — gives us an advantage.